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University of Toronto 

First Published, 6s., April 
Reprinted, June 1903; Oclober 
1907. Heinemann's Seven- 
penny Novels, 1912. 



Joseph Conrad 




William Heinemann 


4 00 ^ 

On 7^ 

I ^ 


Sevenpenny Novels 


The Bondman 
The Scapegoat 

The Ebb-Tide 

(With Lloyd Osbournc) 


The Call of the Wild 


The War of the Worlds 


In the Fog 
Soldiers of Fortune 

The Gadfly 


The Last Sentence 


Her Ladyship's Elephant 

^ O / Typhoon 


The Return of the O'Mahony 

II lull It 




Captain Mac Whirr, of the steamer Nan-Shan, had a 
physiognomy that, in the order of material appearances, 
was the exact counterpart of his mind : it presented 
no marked characteristics of firn^ness or stupidity ; it 
had no pronounced characteristics whatever ; it was 
simply ordinary, irresponsive, and unruffled. 

The only thing his aspect might have been said to 
suggest, at times, was bashfulncss; because he would 
sit, in business offices ashore, sunburnt and smiling 
faintly, with downcast e3'es. When he raised them, 
they were perceived to be direct in their glance and of 
blue colour. His hair was fair and extremely fine, 
clasping from temple to temple the bald dome of his 
skull in a clamp as of fluffy silk. The hair of his face, 
on the contrary, carroty and flaming, resembled a growth 
of copper wire clipped short to the line of the lip ; 
while, no matter how close he shaved, fiery metallic 
gleams passed, when he moved his head, over the 
surface of his cheeks. He was rather below the 
medium height, a bit round-shouldered, and so sturdy 
of limb that his clothes always looked a shade too tight 
for his arms and legs. As if unable to grasp what is 


due to the difference of latitudes, he wore a brown 
bowler hat, a complete suit of a brownish hue, and 
clumsy black boots. These harbour togs gave to his 
thick figure an air of stiff and uncouth smartness. A 
thin silver watch-chain looped his waistcoat, and he 
never left his ship for the shore without clutching in his 
powerful, hairy fist an elegant umbrella of the very 
best quality, but generally unrolled. Young Jukes, the 
chief mate, attending his commander to the gangway, 
would sometimes venture to say, with the greatest 
gentleness, " Allow me, sir," — and possessing himself 
of the umbrella deferentially, would elevate the ferule, 
shake the folds, twirl a neat furl in a jiffy, and hand it 
back ; going through the performance with a face of 
such portentous gravity, that Mr. Solomon Rout, the 
chief engineer, smoking his morning cigar over the 
skylight, would turn away his head in order to hide a 
smile. " Oh ! aye ! The blessed gamp. .... Thank 
'ee. Jukes, thank 'ee," would mutter Captain MacWhirr 
heartily, without looking up. 

Having just enough imagination to carry him through 
each successive day, and no more, be was tranquilly 
sure of himself; and from the very same cause he was 
not in the least conceited. It is your imaginative 
superior who is touchy, overbearing, and difficult to 
please ; but every ship Captain MacWhirr commanded 
was the floating abode of harmony and peace. It was» 
in truth, as impossible for him to take a flight of fancy 
as it would be for a watchmaker to put together a 
chronometer with nothing except a two-pound hammer 
and a whip-saw in the way of tools. Yet the unin- 
teresting lives of men so entirely given to the actuality 


of the bare existence have their mysterious side. It 
was impossible in Captain MacWhirr's case, for 
instance, to understand what under heaven could have 
induced that perfectly satisfactory son of a petty 
grocer in Belfast to run away to sea. And yet he had 
done that very thing at the age of fifteen. It was 
enough, when you thought it over, to give you the idea 
of an immense, potent, and invisible hand thrust into 
the ant-heap of the earth, laying hold of shoulders, 
knocking heads together, and setting the unconscious 
faces of the multitude towards inconceivable goals and 
in undreamt-of directions. 

His father never really forgave him for this undutiful 
stupidity. " We could have got on without him," he 
used to say later on, " but there's the business. And 
he an only son toot" His mother wept very much 
after his disappearance. As it had never occurred to 
him to leave word behind, he was mourned over for 
dead till, after eight months, his first letter arrived 
from Talcahuano. It was short, and contained the 
statement : "We had very fine weather on our passage 
out." But evidently, in the writer's mind, the only 
important intelligence was to the effect that his captain 
had, on the very day of writing, entered him regularly 
on the ship's articles as Ordinary Seaman. " Because 
I can do the work," he explained. The mother again 
wept copiously, while the remark, "Tom's an ass," 
expressed the emotions of the father. He was a 
corpulent man, with a gift for sly chaffing, which to 
the end of his life he exercised in his intercourse with 
his son, a Httle pityingly, as if upon a half-witted 


MacWhirr's visits to his home were necessarily rare, 
and in the course of years he despatched other letters 
to his parents, informing them of his successive promo- 
tions and of his movements upon the vast earth. In 
these missives could be found sentences Hke this : " The 
heat here is very great." Or: "On Christmas day at 
4 P.M. we fell in with some icebergs." The old people 
ultimately became acquainted with a good many names 
of ships, and with the names of the skippers who 
commanded them — with the names of Scots and 
English shipowners — with the names of seas, oceans, 
straits, promontories — with outlandish names of lumber- 
ports, of rice-ports, of cotton-ports — with the names of 
islands — with the name of their son's young woman. 
She was called Lucy. It did not suggest itself to him 
to mention whether he thought the name pretty. And 
then they died. 

The great day of MacWhirr's marriage came in due 
course, following shortly upon the great day when he 
got his first command. 

All these events had taken place many years before 
the morning when, in the chart-room of the steamer 
Nan-Shan, he stood confronted by the fall of a baro- 
meter he had no reason to distrust. The fall — taking 
into account the excellence of the instrument, the time 
of the year, and the ship's position on the terrestrial 
globe — was of a nature ominously prophetic ; but the 
red face of the man betrayed no sort of inward 
disturbance. Omens were as nothing to him, and he 
was unable to discover the message of a prophecy till 
the fulfilment had brought it home to his very door. 
** That's a fall, and no mistake," he thought. "There 


must be some uncommonly dirty weather knocking 

The Nan-Shan was on her way from the southward 
to the treaty port of Fu-chau, with some cargo in her 
lower holds, and two hundred Chinese coolies returning 
to their village homes in the province of Fo-kien, after 
a few years of work in various tropical colonies. 
The morning was fine, the oily sea heaved without a 
sparkle, and there was a queer white misty patch in the 
sky like a halo of the sun. The fore-deck, packed with 
Chinamen, was full of sombre clothing, yellow faces, 
and pigtails, sprinkled over with a good many naked 
shoulders, for there was no wind, and the heat was 
close. The coolies lounged, talked, smoked, or stared 
over the rail ; some, drawing water over the side, 
sluiced each other ; a few slept on hatches, while 
several small parties of six sat on their heels surround- 
ing iron trap's with plates of rice and tiny teacups , 
and every single Celestial of them was carrying with 
him all he had in the world — a wooden chest with a 
ringing lock and brass on the corners, containing the 
savings of his labours : some clothes of ceremony, 
sticks of incense, a little opium maybe, bits of nameless 
rubbish of conventional value, and a small heard of 
silver dollars, toiled for in coal lighters, won in gamb- 
ling-houses or in petty trading, grubbed out of earth, 
sweated out in mines, on railway lines, in deadly 
jungle, under heavy burdens — amassed patientl}', 
guarded with care, cherished fiercely. 

A cross swell had set in from the direction of For- 
mosa Channel about ten o'clock, without disturbing 
these passengers much, because the Nan-Shan, with 


her flat bottom, rolling chocks on bilges, and great 
breadth of beam, had the reputation of an exceptionally 
steady ship in a sea-way. Mr. Jukes, in moments of 
expansion on shore, would proclaim loudly that the 
"old girl was as good as she was pretty." It would 
never have occurred to Captain MacWhirr to express 
his favourable opinion so loud or in terms so fanciful. 

She was a good ship, undoubtedly, and not old 
either. She had been built in Dumbarton less than 
three years before, to the order of a firm of merchants 
in Siam — Messrs. Sigg and Son. When she lay afloat, 
finished in every detail and ready to take up the work 
of her life, the builders contemplated her with pride. 

" Sigg has asked us for a reliable skipper to take her 
out," remarked one of the partners ; and the other, after 
reflecting for a while, said : '* I think MacWhirr is 
ashore just at present." *' Is he ? Then wire him at 
once. He's the very man," declared the senior, with- 
out a moment's hesitation. 

Next morning MacWhirr stood before them unper- 
turbed, having travelled from London by the midnight 
express after a sudden but undemonstrative parting 
with his wife. She was the daughter of a superior 
couple who had seen better days. 

"We had better be going together over the ship, 
Captain," said the senior partner ; and the three men 
started to view the perfections of the Nan-Shan from 
stem to stern, and from her keelson to the trucks of her 
two stumpy pole-masts. 

Captain MacWhirr had begun by taking off his coat, 
which he hung on the end of a steam windlass embody- 
ing all the latest improvements. 


" My uncle wrote or you favourably by j'^esterday's 
mail to our good friends — Messrs. Sigg, you know— 
and doubtless they'll continue you out there in com- 
mand," said the junior partner. "You'll be able to 
boast of being in charge of the handiest boat of her size 
on the coast of China, Captain," he added. 

" Have you ? Thank 'ee," mumbled vaguely Mac- 
Whirr, to whom the view of a distant eventuality could 
appeal no more than the beauty of a wide landscape to 
a purblind tourist; and his eyes happening at the 
moment to be at rest upon the lock of the cabin door, 
he walked up to it, full of purpose, and began to rattle 
the handle vigorously, while he observed, in his lo\v, 
earnest voice, "You can't trust the workmen nowadays. 
A brand-new lock, and it won't act at all. Stuck fast. 
See? See?" 

As soon as they found themselves alone in their 
office across the yard : " You praised that fellow up to 
Sigg. What is it you see in him ? " asked the nephew, 
with faint contempt. 

" I admit he has nothing of your fancy skipper about 
him, if that's what you mean," said the elder man curtly. 
" Is the foreman of the joiners on the Nan-Shan out- 
side ? . . . Come in. Bates. How is it that you let 
Tait's people put us off with a defective lock on the 
cabin door ? The Captain could see directly he set 
eye on it. Have it replaced at once. The little straws, 
Bates ... the little straws. . . ." 

The lock was replaced accordingly, and a few days 
afterwards the Nan-Shan steamed out to the East, 
without MacWhirr having offered any further remark 
as to her fittings, or having been heard to utter a single 


word hinting at pride in his ship, gratitude for his 
appointment, or satisfaction at his prospects. 

With a temperament neither loquacious nor taciturn, 
he found very little occasion to talk. There were 
matters of duty, of course — directions, orders, and so 
on ; but the past being to his mind done with, and the 
future not there yet, the more general actualities of the 
day required no comment — because facts can sneak for 
themselves with overwhelming precision. 

Old Mr. Sigg hked a man of few words, and one that 
" you could be sure would not try to improve upon his 
instructions." MacWhirr satisfying these require- 
ments, was continued in command of the Nan-Shan, 
and applied himself to the careful navigation of his 
ship in the China seas. She had come out on a British 
register, but after some time Messrs. Sigg judged it 
expedient to transfer her to the Siamese flag. 

At the news of the contemplated transfer Jukes grew 
restless, as if under a sense of personal affront. He 
went about grumbling to himself, and uttering short 
scornful laughs, " Fancy having a ridiculous Noah's 
Ark elephant in the ensign of one's ship," he said once 
at the engine-room door. " Dash me if I can stand it : 
I'll throw up the billet. Don't it make yon sick, Mr. 
Rout ? " The chief engineer only cleared his throat 
with the air of a man who knows the value of a good 

The first morning the new flag floated over the stern 
of the Nan-Shan Jukes stood looking at it bitterly from 
the bridge. He struggled with his feelings for a while, 
and then remarked, "Queer flag for a man to sail 
under, sir." 


" What's the matter with the flag ? " inquired 
Captain MacWhirr. " Seems all right to me." And 
he walked across to the end of the bridge to have a 
good look. 

" Well, it looks queer to me," burst out Jukes, greatly 
exasperated, and flung off the bridge. 

Captain MacWhirr was amazed at these manners. 
After a while he stepped quietly into the chart-room, 
and opened his International Signal Code-book at the 
plate where the flags of all the nations are correctly 
figured in gaudy rows. He ran his finger over them, 
and when he came to Siam he contemplated with great 
attention the red field and the white elephant. Nothing 
could be more simple; but to make sure he brought the 
book out on the bridge for the purpose of comparing 
the coloured drawing with the real thing at the flag- 
staff astern. When next Jukes, who was carrying on 
the duty that day with a sort of suppressed fierceness, 
happened on the bridge, his commander observed : 

" There's nothing amiss with that flag." 

"Isn't there?" mumbled Jukes, falling on his knees 
before a deck-locker and jerking therefrom viciously a 
spare lead-line. 

" No. I looked up the book. Length twice the 
breadth and the elephant exactly in the middle. I 
thought the people ashore would know how to make 
the local flag. Stands to reason. You were wrong, 
Jukes. . . ." 

"Well, sir," began Jukes, getting up excitedly, "all 

I can say " He fumbled for tlie end of the coil of 

line with trembling hands. 

"That's all right." Captain MacWhirr soothed him. 


sitting heavily on a little canvas folding-stool he greatly 
affected. " All you have to do is to take care they 
don't hoist the elephant upside-down before they get 
quite used to it." 

Jukes flung the new lead-line over on the fore-deck 
with a loud " Here you are, bo'ss'en — don't forget to 
wet it thoroughly," and turned with immense resolution 
towards his commander ; but Captain MacWhirr spread 
his elbows on the bridge-rail comfortably. 

" Because it would be, I suppose, understood as a 
signal of distress," he went on. " What do you think? 
That elephant there, I take it, stands for something in 
the nature of the Union Jack in the flag. . . ." 

"Does it!" yelled Jukes, so that every head on 
the Nan-Shan's decks looked towards the bridge. 
Then he sighed, and with sudden resignation : " It 
would certainly be a dam' distressful sight," he said 

Later in the day he accosted the chief engineer with 
a confidential " Here, let me tell you the old man's 

Mr. Solomon Rout (frequently alluded to as Long 
Sol, Old Sol, or Father Rout), from finding himself 
almost invaiiably the tallest man on board every ship 
he joined, had acquired the habit of a stooping, leisurely 
condescension. His hair was scant and sandy, his flat 
cheeks were pale, his bony wrists and long scholarly 
hands were pale too, as though he had lived all his hfe 
in the shade. 

He smiled from on high at Jukes, and went on 
smoking and glancing about quietly, in the manner of 
a kind uncle lending an ear to the tale of an excited 


schoolboy. Then, greatly amused but impassive, he 
asked : 

" And did you throw up the billet ? " 

"No," cried Jukes, raising a weary, discouraged 
voice above the harsh buzz of the Nan-Shan's friction 
winches. All of them were hard at work, snatching 
slings of cargo, high up, to the end of long derricks, 
only, as it seemed, to let them rip down recklessly by 
the run. The cargo chains groaned in the gins, clinked 
on coamings, rattled over the side ; and the whole ship 
quivered, with her long grey flanks smoking in wreaths 
of steam. " No," cried Jukes, " I didn't. What's the 
good ? I might just as well fling my resignation at 
this bulkhead. I don't believe you can make a man 
like that understand anything. He simply knocks mc 

At that moment Captain MacWhirr, back from the 
shore, crossed the deck, umbrella in hand, escorted by 
a mournful, self-possessed Chinaman, walking behind 
in paper-soled silk shoes, and who also carried an 

The master of the Nan-Shan, speaking just audibly 
and gazing at his boots as his manner was, remarked 
that it would be necessary to call at Fu-chau this trip, 
and desired Mr. Rout to have steam up to-morrow 
afternoon at one o'clock sharp. He pushed back his 
hat to wipe his forehead, observing at the same time 
that he hated going ashore anyhow ; while overtopping 
him Mr. Rout, without deigning a word, smoked 
austerely, nursing his right elbow in the palm of his 
left hand. Then Jukes was directed in the same sub- 
dued voice to keep the forward 'tween-deck clear of 


cargo. Two hundred coolies were going to be put 
down there. The Bun Hin Company were sending 
that lot home. Twenty-five bags of rice would be 
coming off in a sampan directly, for stores. All seven- 
years'-men they were, said Captain MacWhirr, with a 
camphor-wood chest to every man. The carpenter 
should be set to work nailing three-inch battens along 
the deck below, fore and aft, to keep these boxes from 
shifting in a sea-way. Jukes had better look to it at 
once. " D'ye hear, Jukes ? " This Chinaman here 
was coming with the ship as far as Fu-chau, — a sort of 
interpreter he would be. Bun Hin's clerk he was, and 
wanted to have a look at the space. Jukes had better 
take him forward. " D'ye hear, Jukes ? " 

Jukes took care to punctuate these instructions in 
proper places with the obligatory " Yes, sir," ejaculated 
without enthusiasm. His brusque " Come along John ; 
make look see " set the Chinaman in motion at his 

''Wanchee look see, all same look see can do," said 
Jukes, who having no talent for foreign languages 
mangled the very pidgin-English cruelly. He pointed 
at the open hatch. " Catchee number one piecie place 
to sleep in. Eh ? " 

He was gruff, as became his racial superiority, but 
not unfriendly. The Chinaman, gazing sad and speech- 
less into the darkness of the hatchway, seemed to stand 
at the head of a yawning grave. 

" No catchee rain down there — savee ? " pointed out 
Jukes. '• Suppose all *ee same fine weather, one piecie 
coolie-man come topside," he pursued, warming up 
imaginatively. " ]\Iake so — Phooooo 1 " He expanded 


his chest and blew out his cheeks. " Savee, John ? 
Breathe — fresh air. Good. Eh ? Washee him piecie 
pants, chow-chow top-side — see, John ? " 

With his mouth and hands he made exuberant 
motions of eating rice and washing clothes ; and the 
Chinaman, who concealed his distrust of this pantomime 
under a collected demeanour tinged by a gentle and 
refined melancholy, glanced out of his almond eyes 
from Jukes to the hatch and back again. " Velly 
good," he murmured, in a disconsolate undertone, and 
hastened smoothly along the decks, dodging obstacles 
in his course. He disappeared, ducking low under a 
sling of ten dirty gunny-bags full of some costly 
merchandise and exhaling a repulsive smell. 

Captain Mac Whirr meantime had gone on the bridge, 
and into the chart-room, where a letter, commenced 
two days before, awaited termination. These long 
letters began with the words, " My darling wife," and 
the steward, between the scrubbing of the floors and 
the dusting of chronometer-boxes, snatched at every 
opportunity to read them. They interested him much 
more than they possibly could the woman for whose 
eye they were intended ; and this for the reason that 
they related in minute detail each successive trip of the 

Her master, faithful to facts, which alone his con- 
sciousness reflected, would set them down with pains- 
taking care upon many pages. The house in a northern 
suburb to which these pages were addressed had a bit 
of garden before the bow-windows, a deep porch ot 
good appearance, coloured glass with imitation lead 
frame ia the front door. He paid five-and-lorty pounds 


a year for it, and did not think the rent too high, 
because Mrs. Mac Whirr (a pretentious person with a 
scraggy neck and a disdainful manner) was admittedly 
ladylike, and in the neighbourhood considered as "quite 
superior." The only secret of her life was her abject 
terror of the time when her husband would come home 
to stay for good. Under the same roof there dwelt 
also a daughter called Lydia and a son, Tom. These 
two were but slightly acquainted with their father. 
Mainly, they knew him as a rare but privileged visitor, 
who of an evening smoked his pipe in the dining-room 
and slept in the house. The lanky girl, upon the 
whole, was rather ashamed of him ; the boy was 
frankly and utterly indifferent in a straightforward, 
delightful, unaffected way manly boys have. 

And Captain MacWhirr wrote home from the coast 
of China twelve times every year, desiring queerly to 
be "remembered to the children," and subscribing 
himself "your loving husband," as calmly as if the 
words so long used by so many men were, apart from 
their shape, worn-out things, and of a faded meaning. 

The China seas north and south are narrow seas. 
They are seas full of every-day, eloquent facts, such 
as islands, sand-banks, reefs, swift and changeable 
currents — tangled facts that nevertheless speak to a 
seaman in clear and definite language. Their speech 
appealed to Captain MacWhirr's sense of realities so 
forcibly that he had given up his state-room below and 
practically lived all his days on the bridge of his ship, 
often having his meals sent up, and sleeping at night 
in the chart-room. And he indited there his home 
letters. Each of them, without exception, contained 


the phrase, " The weather has been very fine this trip," 
or some other form of a statement to that effect. And 
this statement, too, in its wonderful persistence, was 
of the same perfect accuracj' as all the others they 

Mr. Rout likewise wrote letters ; only no one on 
board knew how chatty he could be pen in hand, 
because the chief engineer had enough imagination 
to keep his desk locked. His wife relished his style 
greatly. They were a childless couple, and Mrs. Rout, 
a big, high-bosomed, jolly woman of forty, shared with 
Mr. Rout's toothless and venerable mother a little 
cottage near Teddington. She would run over her 
correspondence, at breakfast, with lively eyes, and 
scream out interesting passages in a joyous voice at 
the deaf old lady, prefacing each extract by the warning 
shout, " Solomon says ! " She had the trick of firing oft 
Solomon's utterances also upon strangers, astonishing 
them easily by the unfamiliar text and the unexpectedly 
jocular vein of these quotations. On the day the new 
curate called for the first time at the cottage, she found 
occasion to remark, " As Solomon says : ' the engineers 
that go down to the sea in ships behold the wonders of 
sailor nature' ;" when a change in the visitor's counten- 
ance made her stop and stare. 

"Solomon . . . Oh ! . . . Mrs. Rout," stuttered the 
young man, very red in the face, " I must say ... I 
don't . . ." 

" He's my husband," she announced in a great shout, 
throwing herself back in the chair. Perceiving the 
joke, she laughed immoderately with a handkerchief 
to her eyes, while he sat wearing a forced smile, and, 



from his inexperience of jolly women, fully persuaded 
that she must be deplorably insane. They were ex- 
cellent friends afterwards ; for, absolving her from 
irreverent intention, he came to think she was a very 
worthy person indeed ; and he learned in time to receive 
without flinching other scraps of Solomon's wisdom. 

" For my part," Solomon was reported by his wife 
to have said once, " give me the dullest ass for a skipper 
before a rogue. There is a way to take a fool ; but a 
rogue is smart and slippery." This was an airy 
generalisation drawn from the particular case of 
Captain MacWhirr's honesty, which, in itself, had 
the heavy obviousness of a lump of clay. On the 
other hand, Mr. Jukes, unable to generalise, unmarried, 
and unengaged, was in the habit of opening his heart 
after another fashion to an old chum and former ship- 
mate, actually serving as second officer on board an 
Atlantic liner. 

First of all he would insist upon the advantages of 
the Eastern trade, hinting at its superiority to the 
Western ocean service. He extolled the sky, the seas, 
the ships, and the easy life of the Far East. The 
Nan-Shan, he affirmed, was second to none as a sea- 

" We have no brass-bound uniforms, but then we are 
like brothers here," he wrote. "We all mess together 
and live like fighting-cocks. . . . All the chaps of the 
black-squad are as decent as they make that kind, and 
old Sol, the Chief, is a dry stick. We are good friends. 
As to our old man, you could not find a quieter skipper. 
Sometimes you would think he hadn't sense enough to 
see anything wrong. And yet it isn't that. Can't be. 


He has been in command for a good few years now. 
He doesn't do anything actually foolish, and gets his 
ship along all right without worrying anybod}'. I 
believe he hasn't brains enough to enjoy kicking up a 
row. I don't take advantage of him. I would scorn 
it. Outside the routine of duty he doesn't seem to 
understand more than half of what you tell him. We 
get a laugh out of this at times ; but it is dull, too, to 
be with a man like this — in the long-run. Old Sol says 
he hasn't much conversation. Conversation ! O Lord ! 
He never talks. The other day I had been j^arning 
under the bridge with one of the engineers, and he 
must have heard us. When I came up to take my 
watch, he steps out of the chart-room and has a good 
look all round, peeps over at the sidelights, glances at 
the compass, squints upwards at the stars. That's his 
regular performance. B3'-and-by he says : 'Was that 
you talking just now in the port alleyway ? ' ' Yes, 
sir.' ' With the third engineer ? ' * Yes, sir.' He 
walks off to starboard, and sits under the dodger on 
a little campstool of his, and for half an hour perhaps 
he makes no sound, except that I heard him sneeze 
once. Then after a while I hear him getting up over 
there, and he strolls across to port, where I was. ' I 
can't understand what you can find to talk about,' says 
he. ' Two solid hours. I am not blaming you. I see 
people ashore at it all day long, and then in the evening 
they sit down and keep at it over the drinks. Must be 
saying the same things over and over again. I can't 

"Did you ever hear anything like that? And 
he was so patient about it It made me quite sorry 


for him. But he is exasperating too sometimes. 
Of course one would not do anything to vex him 
even if it were worth while. But it isn't. He's 
so jolly innocent that if you were to put your thumb to 
your nose and wave your fingers at him he would only 
wonder gravely to himself what got into you. He told 
me once quite simply that he found it very difficult to 
make out what made people always act so queerly. 
He's too dense to trouble about, and that's the truth." 

Thus wrote Mr. Jukes to his chum in the Western 
ocean trade, out of the fulness oi his heart and the 
liveliness of his fanc}'. 

He had expressed his honest opinion. It was not 
worth while trying to impress a man of that sort. If 
the world had been full of such men, life would have 
probably appeared to Jukes an unentertaining and 
unprofitable business. He was not alone in his opinion. 
The sea itself, as if sharing Mr. Jukes' good-natured 
forbearance, had never put itself out to startle the silent 
man, who seldom looked up, and wandered innocently 
over the waters with the only visible purpose of getting 
food, raiment, and house-room for three people ashore. 
Dirty weather he had known, of course. He had been 
made wet, uncomfortable, tired in the usual way, felt at 
the time and presently forgotten. So that upon the 
whole he had been justified in reporting fine weather at 
home. But he had never been given a glimpse of im- 
measurable strength and of immoderate wrath, the 
wrath that passes exhausted but never appeased — the 
wrath and fury of the passionate sea. He knew it 
existed, as we know that crime and abominations exist; 
he had heard of it as a peaceable citizen in a town hears 


of battles, famines, and floods, and yet knows nothing 
of what these things mean — though, indeed, he may 
have been mixed up in a street row, have gone without 
his dinner once, or been soaked to the skin in a shower. 
Captain Mac Whirr had sailed over the surface of the 
oceans as some men go skimming over the years of 
existence to sink gently into a placid grave, ignorant of 
life to the last, without ever having been made to see 
all it may contain of perfidy, of violence, and of terror. 
There are on sea and land such men thus fortunate — or 
thus disdained by destiny or by the sea. 


Observing the steady fall of the barometer, Captain 
MacWhirr thought, " There's some dirty weather 
knocking about." This is precisely what he thought. 
He had had an experience of moderately dirty weather 
— the term dirty as applied to the weather implying 
only moderate discomfort to the seaman. Had he been 
informed by an indisputable authority that the end of 
the world was to be finally accomplished by a cata- 
strophic disturbance of the atmosphere, he would have 
assimilated the information under the simple idea of 
dirty weather, and no other, because he had no experi- 
ence of cataclysms, and belief does not necessarily 
imply comprehension. The wisdom of his country had 
pronounced by means of an Act of Parliament that 
before he could be considered as fit to take charge of a 
ship he should be able to answer certain simple ques- 
tions on the subject of circular storms such as hurri- 
canes, cyclones, typhoons ; and apparently he had 
answered them, since he was now in command of tlie 
Nan-Shan in the China seas during the season of 
typhoons. But if he had answered he remembered 
nothing of it. He was, however, conscious of being 
made uncomfortable by the clammy heat. He came 
out on the bridge, and found no relief to this oppression. 
The air seemed thick. He gasped like a fish, and began 
to believe himself greatly out of sorts. 


The Nan-Shan was ploughing a vanishing furrow 
upon the circle of the sea that had the surface and the 
shimmer of an undulating piece of grey silk. The 
sun, pale and without rays, poured down leaden heat 
in a strangely indecisive light, and the Chinamen were 
lying prostrate about the decks. Their bloodless, 
pinched, yellow faces were like the faces of bilious 
invalids. Captain MacWhirr noticed two of them 
especially, stretched out on their backs below the 
bridge. As soon as they had closed their eyes they 
seemed dead. Three others, however, were quarrelling 
barbarously away forward ; and one big fellow, half 
naked, with herculean shoulders, was hanging limply 
over a winch ; another, sitting on the deck, his knees 
up and his head drooping sideways in a girlish attitude, 
was plaiting his pigtail with infinite languor depicted in 
his whole person and in the very movement of his 
fingers. The smoke struggled with difficulty out of 
the funnel, and instead of streaming away spread itself 
out like an infernal sort of cloud, smelling of sulphur 
and raining soot all over the decks. 

" What the devil are you doing there, Mr. Jukes ? " 
asked Captain MacWhirr. 

This unusual form of address, though mumbled 
rather than spoken, caused the body of Mr. Jukes to 
start as though it had been prodded under the fifth rib. 
He had had a low bench brought on the bridge, and 
sitting on it, with a length of rope curled about his 
feet and a piece of canvas stretched over his knees, was 
pushing a sail-needle vigorously. He looked up, and 
his surprise gave to his eyes an expression of innocence 
and candour. 


" I am only roping some of that new set of bags we 
made last trip for whipping up coals," he remonstrated 
gently. "We shall want them for the next coahng, 

"What became of the others ?" 

"Why, worn out of course, sir." 

Captain MacWhirr, after glaring down irresolutely 
at his chief mate, disclosed the gloomy and cynical 
conviction that more than half of them had been lost 
overboard, " if only the truth was known," and retired 
to the other end of the bridge. Jukes, exasperated by 
this unprovoked attack, broke the needle at the second 
stitch, and dropping his work got up and cursed the 
heat in a violent undertone. 

The propeller thumped, the three Chinamen forward 
had given up squabbling very suddenly, and the one 
who had been plaiting his tail clasped his legs and 
stared dejectedly over his knees. The lurid sunshine 
cast faint and sickly shadows. The swell ran higher 
and swifter every moment, and the ship lurched heavily 
in the smooth, deep hollows of the sea. 

" I wonder where that beastly swell comes from," 
said Jukes aloud, recovering himself after a stagger. 

** North-east," grunted the literal MacWhirr, from 
his side of the bridge. " There's some dirty weather 
knocking about. Go and look at the glass." 

When Jukes came out of the chart-room, the cast of 
his countenance had changed to thoughtfulness and 
concern. He caught hold of the bridge-rail and stared 

The temperature in the engine-room had gone up to 
a hundred and seventeen degrees. Irritated voices 


were ascending through the skylight and through the 
fiddle of the stokehold in a harsh and resonant uproar, 
mingled with angry clangs and scrapes of metal, as if 
men with limbs of iron and throats of bronze had been 
quarrelling down there. The second engineer was 
falling foul of the stokers for letting the steam go down. 
He was a man with arms like a blacksmith, and generally 
feared ; but that afternoon the stokers were answering 
him back recklessly, and slammed the furnace doors 
with the fury of despair. Then the noise ceased 
suddenly, and the second engineer appeared, emerging 
out of the stokehold streaked with grime and soaking 
wet like a chimney-sweep coming out of a well. As 
soon as his head was clear of the fiddle he began to 
scold Jukes for not trimming properly the stokehold 
ventilators; and in answer Jukes made with his hands 
deprecatory soothing signs meaning : No wind — can't 
be helped — you can see for yourself. But the other 
wouldn't hear reason. His teeth flashed angrily in his 
dirty face. He didn't mind, he said, the trouble of 
punching their blanked heads down there, blank his 
soul, but did the condemned sailors think you could 
keep steam up in the God-forsaken boilers simply by 
knocking the blanked stokers about? No, by George ! 
You had to get some draught too — may he be ever- 
lastingly blanked for a swab-headed deck-hand if you 
didn't ! And the chief, too, rampaging before the 
steam-gauge and carrying on like a lunatic up and 
down the engine-room ever since noon. What did 
Jukes think he was stuck up there for, if he couldn't 
get one of his decayed, good-for-nothing deck-cripples 
to turn the ventilators to the wind ? 


The relations of the " engine-rconi " and the " deck " 
of the Nan-Shan were, as is known, of a brotherly 
nature ; therefore Jukes leaned over and begged the 
other in a restrained tone not to make a disgusting ass 
of himself ; the skipper was on the other side of the 
bridge. But the second declared mutinously that he 
didn't care a rap who was on the other side of the 
bridge, and Jukes, passing in a flash from lofty 
disapproval into a state of exaltation, invited him in 
unflattering terms to come up and twist the beastly 
things to please himself, and catch such wind as a 
donkey of his sort could find. The second rushed up 
to the fray. He flung himself at the port ventilator 
as though he meant to tear it out bodily and toss it 
overboard. All he did was to move the cowl round a 
few inches, with an enormous expenditure of force, 
and seemed spent in the effort. He leaned against the 
back of the wheel-house, and Jukes walked up to him. 

" Oh, Heavens ! " ejaculated the engineer in a feeble 
voice. He lifted his eyes to the sky, and then let his 
glassy stare descend to meet the horizon that, tilting 
up to an angle of forty degrees, seemed to hang on a 
slant for a v^^hile and settled dov/n slowly. ** Heavens I 
Phew ! What's up, anyhow ? " 

Jukes, straddling his long legs like a pair of com- 
passes, put on an air of superiority. " We're going to 
catch it this time," he said. *' The barometer is tumb- 
ling down like anything, Harry. And you trying to 
kick up that silly row ..." 

The word " barometer " seemed to revive the second 
engineer's mad animosity. Collecting afresh all his 
energies, he directed Jukes in a low and brutal tone 


to shove the unmentionable instrument down his gory 
throat. Who cared for his crimson barometer? It 
was the steam — the steam — that was going down ; 
and what between the firemen going faint and the 
chief going silly, it was worse than a dog's life for 
him ; he didn't care a tinker's curse how soon the 
whole show was blown out of the water. He seemed 
on the point of having a cry, but after regaining 
his breath he muttered darkly, *' I'll faint them," and 
dashed off. He stopped upon the fiddle long enough 
to shake his fist at the unnatural daylight, and 
dropped into the dark hole with a whoop. 

When Jukes turned, his eyes fell upon the rounded 
back and the big red ears of Captain MacWhirr, who 
had come across. He did not look at his chief officer, 
but said at once, " That's a very violent man, that 
second engineer." 

** Jolly good second, anyhow," grunted Jukes. "They 
can't keep up steam," he added rapidly, and made a 
grab at the rail against the coming lurch. 

Captain MacWhirr, unprepared, took a run and 
brought himself up with a jerk by an awning stanchion. 

"A profane man," he said obstinately. "If this 
goes on, I'll have to get rid of him the first chance." 

" It's the heat," said Jukes. " The weather's awfuL 
It would make a saint swear. Even up here I feel 
exactly as if I had my head tied up in a woollen 

Captain MacWhirr looked up. " D'ye mean to say 
Mr. Jukes, 30U ever had your head tied up in a blanket? 
What was that for ? " 

" It's a manner of speaking, sir," said Jukes stolidly. 


" Some of you fellows do go on I What's that about 
saints swearing ? I wish you wouldn't talic so wild. 
What sort of saint would that be that would swear ? 
No more saint than yourself, I expect. And what's a 
blanket got to do with it — or the weather either . . . 
The heat does not make me swear — does it? It's 
filthy bad temper. That's what it is. And what's the 
good of your talking like this ? " 

Thus Captain MacWhirr expostulated against the use 
of images in speech, and at the end electrified Jukes by 
a contemptous snort, followed by words of passion and 
resentment : " Damme ! I'll fire him out of the ship if 
he don't look out." 

And Jukes, incorrigible, thought : " Goodness me I 
Somebody's put a new inside to my old man. Here's 
temper, if you like. Of course it's the weather ; what 
else ? It would make an angel quarrelsome — let alone 
a saint." 

All the Chinamen on deck appeared at their last gasp. 

At its setting the sun had a diminished diameter and 
an expiring brown, rayless glow, as if millions of 
centuries elapsing since the morning had brought it 
near its end. A dense bank of cloud became visible to 
the northward; it had a sinister dark olive tint, and 
lay low ard motionless upon the sea, resembling a solid 
obstacle ip the path of the ship. She went floundering 
towards it like an exhausted creature driven to its 
death. The coppery twilight retired slowly, and the 
darkness brought out overhead a swarm of unsteady, 
big stars, that, as if blown upon, flickered exceedingly and 
seemed to hang very near the earth. At eight o'clock 
Jukes went into the chart-room to write up the ship's log. 


He copied neatly out of the rough-book the number 
of miles, the course of the ship, and in the column for 
** wind " scrawled the word " calm " from top to bottom 
of the eight hours since noon. He was exasperated 
by the continuous, monotonous rolling of the ship. 
The heavy inkstand would slide away in a manner that 
suggested perverse intelligence in dodging the pen. 
Having written in the large space under the head ox 
" Remarks " " Heat very oppressive," he stuck the end 
ot the penholder in his teeth, pipe fashion, and mopped 
his face carefully. 

" Ship rolling heavily in a high cross swell," he began 
again, and commented to himself, '* Heavily is no word 
for it." Then he wrote : '' Sunset threatening, with a 
low bank of clouds to N. and E. Sky clear over- 

Sprawling over the table with arrested pen, he 
glanced out of the door, and in that frame of his vision 
he saw all the stars flying upwards between the teak- 
wood jambs on a black sky. The whole lot took flight 
together and disappeared, leaving only a blackness 
flecked with white flashes, for the sea was as black as 
the sky and speckled with foam afar. The stars that 
had flown to the roll came back on the return swing of 
the ship, rushing downwards in their glittering multi- 
tude, not of fiery points, but enlarged to tiny discs 
brilliant with a clear wet sheen. 

Jukes watched the flying big stars for a mor.ient, and 
then wrote : "8 p.m. Swell increasing. F hip labour- 
ing and taking water on her decks. Battened down 
the coolies for the night. Barometer still falling." He 
paused, and thought to himself, " Perhaps nothing 


whatever'll come of it." And then he closed resolutely 
his entries : " Every appearance oi a typhoon coming on." 

On going out he had to stand aside, and Captain 
MacWhirr strode over the doorstep without saying a 
word or making a sign. 

" Shut the door, Mr. Jukes, will you ? " he cried from 

Jukes turned back to do so, muttering ironically : 
"Afraid to catch cold, I suppose." It was his watch 
below, but he yearned for communion with his kind ; 
and he remarked cheerily to the second mate : " Doesn't 
look so bad, after all — does it ? " 

The second mate was marching to and fro on the 
bridge, tripping down with small steps one moment, and 
the next climbing with difficulty the shifting slope of 
the deck. At the sound of Jukes's voice he stood still, 
facing forward, but made no reply. 

" Hallo ! That's a heavy one," said Jukes, swajring 
to meet the long roll till his lowered hand touched the 
planks. This time the second mate made in his throat 
a noise of an unfriendly nature. 

He was an oldish, shabby little fellow, with bad teeth 
and no hair on his face. He had been shipped in a 
hurry in Shanghai, that trip when the second officer 
brought from home had delayed the ship three hours in 
port by contriving (in some manner Captain MacWhirr 
could never understand) to fall overboard into an empty 
coal-lighter lying alongside, and had to be sent ashore 
to the hospital v/ith concussion of the brain and a broken 
limb or two. 

Jukes was not discouraged by the unsympathetic 
Bound. " The Chinamen must be having a lovely time 


of it down there/' he said. " It's lucky for them the 
old girl has the easiest roll of any ship I've ever been 
in. There nov/ ! This one wasn't so bad." 

" You wait," snarled the second mate. 

With his sharp nose, red at the tip, and his thin 
pinched lips, he alwa^'s looked as though he were 
raging inwardly ; and he was concise in his speech to 
the point of rudeness. All his time off duty he spent 
in his cabi'i with the door shut, keeping so still in 
there that he was supposed to fall asleep as soon as he 
had disappeared ; but the man who came in to wake 
him for his watch on deck would invariably find him 
with his eyes wide open, flat on his back in the bunk, 
and glaring irritably from a soiled pillow. He never 
wrote any letters, did not seem to hope for news from 
anywhere; and though he had been heard once to 
mention West Hartlepool, it was with extreme bitter- 
ness, and only in connection with the extortionate 
charges of a boarding-house. He was one of those 
men who are picked up at need in the ports of the 
world. They are competent enough, appear hopelessly 
hard up, show no evidenceof any sort of vice, and carry 
about them all the signs of manifest failure. They 
come aboard on an emergency, care for no ship afloat, 
live in their own atmosphere of casual connection 
amongst their shipmates who know nothing of them, 
and make up their minds to leave at inconvenient times. 
They clear out with no words of leave-taking in some 
God-forsaken port other men would fear to be stranded 
in, and go nsliore in conipany of a shabby sea-chest, 
corded like a treasure-box, and with an air of shaking 
the ship's dust off their feet. 


** You wait," he repeated, balanced in great swings 
with his back to Jukes, motionless and implacable. 

" Do you mean to say we are going to catch it hot ? " 
asked Jukes with boyish interest. 

"Say? ... I say nothing. You don't catch me," 
snapped the little second mate, with a mixture of pride, 
scorn, and cunning, as if Jukes' question had been a 
trap cleverly detected. " Oh no ! None of you here 
shall make a fool of me if I know it," he mumbled to 

Jukes reflected rapidly that this second mate was a 
mean little beast, and in his heart he wished poor Jack 
Allen had never smashed himself up in the coal-lighter. 
The far-off blackness ahead of the ship was like another 
night seen through the starry night of the earth — the 
starless night of the immensities beyond the created 
universe, revealed in its appalling stillness through a 
low fissure in the glittering sphere of which the earth 
is the kernel. 

" Whatever there might be about," said Jukes, " we 
are steaming straight into it," 

" YovCv^. said it," caught up the second mate, always 
with his back to Jukes. " You've said it, mind — 
not I." 

" Oh, go to Jericho ! " said Jukes frankly ; and the 
other emitted a triumphant little chuckle. 

" You've said it," he repeated. 

"And what of that?" 

" I've known some real good men get into trouble 
with their skippers for saying a dam' sight less," 
answered the second mate feverishly. " Oh no I You 
don't catch me." 


*'You seem deucedly anxious not to give yourself 
away," said Jukes, completely soured by such absurdity. 
" I wouldn't be afraid to say what I thinlfc." 

" Aye, to me ! That's no greitt trick. I am nobody, 
and well I know it." 

The ship, after a pause of comparative steadiness, 
started upon a series of rolls, one worse than the 
other, and for a time Jukes, preserving his equilibrium, 
was too busy to open his mouth. As soon as the 
violent swinging had quieted down somewhat, he said : 
"This is a bit too much of a good thing. Whether 
anything is coming or not I think she ought to be put 
nead on to that swell. The old man is just gone in 
to lie down. Hang me if I don't speak to him." 

But when he opened the door of the chart-room he 
saw his captain reading a book. Captain MacWhirr 
was not lying down : he was standing up with one 
hand grasping the edge of the bookshelf and the other 
holding open before his face a thick volume. The 
lamp wriggled in the gimbals, the loosened books 
toppled from side to side on the shelf, the long 
barometer swung in jerky circles, the table altered 
its slant every moment. In the midst of all this stir 
and movement Captain MacWhirr, holding on, showed 
his eyes above the upper edge, and asked, " What's 
the matter ? " 

" Swell getting worse, sir." 

" Noticed that in here," muttered Captain MacWhirr. 
" Anything wrong ? " 

Jukes, inwardly disconcerted by the seriousness of 
the eyes looking at him over the top of the book, 
produced an embarrassed grin. 


" Rolling like old boots," he said sheepishly. 

"Ayel Very heavy — very heavy. What do you 
want ? " 

At this Jukes lost his footing and began to f.ounder. 

" I was thinking of our passengers," he said, in the 
manner of a man clutching at a straw. 

"Passengers?" wondered the Captain gravely. 
*' What passengers ? " 

"Why, the Chinamen, sir," explained Jukes, very 
sick of this conversation. 

"The Chinamen! Why don't you speak plainly? 
Couldn't tell what you meant. Never heard a lot of 
coolies spoken of as passengers before. Passengers, 
indeed 1 What's come to you ? " 

Captain MacWhirr, closing the book on his fore- 
finger, lowered his arm and looked completely mystified. 
" Why are you thinking of the Chinamen, Mr. Jukes ? " 
he inquired. 

Jukes took a plunge, like a man driven to it. " She's 
rolling her decks full of water, sir. Thought you might 
put her head on perhaps — for a while. Till this goes 
down a bit — very soon, I dare say. Head to the east- 
ward. I never knew a ship roll like this." 

He held on in the doorway, and Captain MacWhirr, 
feeling his grip on the shelf inadequate, made up his 
mind to let go in a hurry, and fell heavily on the couch. 

" Head to the eastward ? " he said, struggling to sit 
up. " That's more than four points off her course." 

"Yes, sir. Fifty degrees . . . Would just bring her 
head far enough round to meet this . . ." 

Captain MacWhirr was now sitting up. He had 
not dropped the book, and he had not lost his place. 


"To the eastward?" he repeated, with dawning 
astonishment. " To the . . . Where do you think we 
are bound to ? You want me to haul a full-powered 
steamship four points off her course to make the 
Chinamen comfortable ! Now, I've heard more than 
enough of mad things done in the world — but this . . . 
If I didn't know you, Jukes, I would think you were 
in liquor. Steer four points oflf . . . And what after- 
wards ? Steer four points over the other way, I 
suppose, to make the course good. What put it into 
your head that I would start to tack a steamer as if 
she were a sailing-ship ? " 

"Jolly good thing she isn't," threw in Jukes, with 
bitter readiness. " She would have rolled every blessed 
stick out of her this afternoon." 

"Aye ! And you just would have had to stand and 
see them go," said Captain MacWhirr, showing a 
certain animation. " It's a dead calm, isn't it ? " 

" It is, sir. But there's something out of the common 
coming, for sure." 

" Maybe. I suppose you have a notion I should 
be getting out of the way of that dirt," said Captain 
MacWhirr, speaking with the utmost simplicity of 
manner and tone, and fixing the oilcloth on the floor 
with a heavy stare. Thus he noticed neither Jukes* 
discomfiture nor the mixture of vexation and astonished 
respect on his face. 

" Now, here's tin's book," he continued with delibera- 
tion, slapping his thigh with the closed volume. " I've 
been reading the chapter on the storms there." 

Tiiis was true. He had been reading the chapter on 
the storms. When he had enlcicd the chart-room, it 


was with no intention of taking the book down. Some 
influence in the air — the same influence, probably, that 
caused the steward to bring without orders the Captain's 
sea-boots and oilskin coat up to the chart-room — had 
as it were guided his hand to the shelf; and without 
taking the time to sit down he had waded with a 
conscious effort into the terminology of the subject. 
He lost himself amongst advancing semi-circles, left- 
and right-hand quadrants, the curves of the tracks, the 
probable bearing of the centre, the shifts of wind and 
the readings of barometer. He tried to bring all these 
things into a definite relation to himself, and ended by 
becoming contemptuously angry with such a lot of 
words and with so much advice, all head-work and 
supposition, without a glimmer of certitude. 

" It's the damnedest thing, Jukes," he said. " If a 
fellow was to believe all that's in there, he would be 
running most of his time all over the sea trying to get 
behind the weather." 

Again he slapped his leg with the book ; and Jukes 
opened his mouth, but said nothing. 

" Running to get behind the weather ! Do you 
understand that, Mr. Jukes ? It's the maddest thing ! " 
ejaculated Captain MacWhirr, with pauses, gazing at 
the floor profoundly. "You would think an old woman 
had been writing this. It passes me. If that thing 
means anything useful, then it means that I should at 
once alter the course away, away to the devil some- 
where, and come booming down on Fu-chau from the 
northward at tbe tail of this dirty weather that's 
supposed to be knocking about in our way. From 
the north I Do you understand, Mr. Jukes ? Three 


hundred extra miles to the distance, and a pretty coal 
bill to show. I couldn't bring myself to do that if every, 
word in there was gospel truth, Mr, Jukes. Don't you 
expect me . . ." 

And Jukes, silent, marvelled at this display of feeling 
and loquacity. 

" But the truth is that you don't know if the fellow 
is right anyhow. How can you tell what a gale is 
made of till you get it ? He isn't aboard here, is he ? 
Very well. Here he says that the centre of them 
things bears eight points off the wind ; but we haven't 
got any wind, for all the barometer falhng. Where's 
his centre now ? " 

"We will get the wind presently," mumbled Jukes. 

" Let it come, then," said Captain MacWhirr, with 
dignified indignation. " It's only to let you see, Mr. 
Jukes, that you don't find everything in books. All 
these rules for dodging breezes and circumventing the 
winds of heaven, Mr. Jukes, seem to me the maddest 
thing, when you come to look at it sensibly." 

He raised his eyes, saw Jukes gazing at him dubiously, 
and tried to illustrate his meaning. 

"About as queer as your extraordinary notion of 
dodging the ship head to sea, for I don't know how 
long, to make the Chinamen comfortable ; whereas all 
we've got to do is to take them to Fu-chau, being timed 
to get there before noon on Friday. If the weather 
delays me — very well. There's your log-book to talk 
straight about the weather. But suppose I went 
swinging off my course and came in two days late, and 
they asked mc : 'Where have you been all that time, 
Captain ? ' What could I say to that ? * Went around 


.0 dodge the bad weather/ I would say. ' It must 've 
been dam' bad/ they would say. * Don't know/ I 
would have to say; 'I've dodged clear of it.' See 
that, Jukes? I have been thinking it all out this 

He looked up again in his unseeing, unimaginative 
way. No one had ever heard him say so much at one 
time. Jukes, with his arms open in the doorway, was 
like a man invited to behold a miracle. Unbounded 
wonder was the intellectual meaning of his eye, vrhile 
incredulity was seated in his whole countenance. 

" A gale is a gale, Mr. Jukes/' resumed the Captain, 
"and a full-powered steam-ship has got to face it. 
There's just so much dirty weather knocking about the 
world, and the proper thing is to go through it with 
none of what old Captain Wilson of the Melita calls 
' storm strategy.' The other day ashore I heard him 
hold forth about it to a lot of shipmasters who came in 
and sat at a table next to mine. It seemed to me the 
greatest nonsense. He was telling them how he — out- 
manoeuvred, I think he said, a terrific gale, so that it 
never came nearer than fifty miles to him. A neat 
piece of head-work he called it. How he knew there 
was a terrific gale fifty miles off beats me altogether. 
It was like listening to a crazy man. I would have 
thought Captain Wilson was old enough to know 

Captain Mac Whirr ceased for a moment, then said, 
" It's your watch below, Mr. Jukes ?" 

Jukes came to himself with a start. *' Yes, sir." 

*' Leave orders to call me at the slightest change/' 
said the Captain. He reached up to put the book away, 


and tucked his legs upon the couch. " Shut the door 
so that it don't fly open, will you ? I can't stand a door 
banging. Tiiey've put a lot of rubbishy locks into this 
ship, I must say." 

Captain MacWhirr closed his eyes. 

He did so to rest himself. He was tired, and he 
experienced that state of mental vacuity which comes 
at the end of an exhaustive discussion that had liberated 
some belief matured in the course of meditative years. 
He had indeed been making his confession of faith, had 
he only known it ; and its effect was to make Jukes, on 
the other side of the door, stand scratching his head 
for a good while. 

Captain MacWhirr opened his eyes. 

He thought he must have been asleep. What was 
that loud noise ? Wind ? Why had he not been 
called ? The lamp wriggled in its gimbals, the baro- 
meter swung in circles, the table altered its slant every 
moment ; a pair of limp seaboots with collapsed tops 
went sliding past the couch. He put out his hand in- 
stantly, and captured one. 

Jukes' face appeared in a crack of the door : only his 
face, very red, with staring eyes. The flame of the 
lamp leaped, a piece of paper flew up, a rush of air 
enveloped Captain MacWhirr. Beginning to draw on 
the boot, he directed an expectant gaze at Jukes' 
twollen, excited features. 

"Came on like this," shouted Jukes, " five minutes 
ago . . . all of a sudd( n." 

The head disappeared with a b.^ng, and a heavj 
splash and patter of drops swept past the closed door 
as if a pailful of melted lead had been flung against the 


(house. A whistling- could be heard now upon the deep 
vibrating noise outside. The stuffy chart-room seemed 
as full of draughts as a shed. Captain MacWhirr 
collared the other sea-boot on its violent passage along 
the floor. He was not flustered, but he could not find 
at once the opening for inserting his foot. The shoes 
he had flung off were scurrying from end to end of the 
cabin, gambolling playfully over each other like puppies. 
As soon as he stood up he kicked at them viciously, but 
without effect. 

He threw himself into the attitude of a lunging 
fencer, to reach after his oilskin coat ; and afterwards 
he staggered all over the confined space while he jerked 
himself into it. Very grave, straddling his legs far 
apart, and stretching his neck, he started to tie deliber- 
ately the strings of his sou'-wester under his chin, with 
thick fingers that trembled slightly. He went through 
all the movements of a woman putting on her bonnet 
before a glass, with a strained, listening attention, as 
though he had expected every moment to hear the 
shout of his name in the confused clamour that had 
suddenly beset his ship. Its increase filled his ears 
while he was getting ready to go out and confront 
whatever it might mean. It was tumultuous and 
very loud — made up of the rush of the wind, the 
crashes of the sea, with that prolonged deep vibration 
of the air, like the roll of an immense and remote drum 
beating the charge of the gale. 

He stood for a moment in the light of the lamp, 
thick, clumsy, shapeless in his panoply of combat, vigi- 
lant and red-faced. 

*' There's a lot of weight in this,*" ne muttered. 


As soon as he attempted to open the door the wind 
caught it. Clinging to the handle, he was dragged out 
over the doorstep, and at once found himself engaged 
v/ith the wind in a sort of personal scuffle whose object 
was the shutting of that door. At the last moment a 
tongue of air scurried in and licked out the flame of the 

Ahead of the ship he perceived a great darkness 
lying upon a multitude of white flashes ; on the star- 
board beam a few amazing stars drooped, dim and 
fitful, above an immense waste of broken seas, as if 
seen through a mad drift of smoke. 

On the bridge a knot of men, indistinct and toiling, 
were making great efforts in the light of the wheel- 
house windows that shone mistily on their heads and 
backs. Suddenly darkness closed upon one pane, then 
on another. The voices of the lost group reached him 
after the manner of men's voices in a gale, in shreds 
and fragments of forlorn shouting snatched past the 
ear. All at once Jukes appeared at his side, yelling, 
with his head down. 

"Watch — put in — wheelhouse shutters — glass — 
afraid — blow in." 

Jukes heard his commander upbraiding. 

" This — come — anything — warning — call me." 

He tried to explain, with the uproar pressing on his 

" Light air — remained — bridge — sudden — north-cast 
— could turn — thought — you — sure — hear." 

They had gained the shelter of the weather-cloth, 
and could converse with raised voices, as jv-cilo 


** I got the hands along to cover up all the ventilators. 
Good job I had remained on deck I didn't think you 
would be asleep, and so . . . What did you say, sir ? 
What ? " 

" Nothing/' cried Captain Mac Whirr. " I said — all 

"By all the powers ! We've got it this time," ob- 
served Jakes in a howl. 

*' You haven't altered her course ?'* inquired Captain 
MacWhirr, straining his voice, 

" No, sir. Certainly not. Wind came out right 
ahead. And here comes the head sea." 

A plunge of the ship ended in a shock as if she had 
landed her forefoot upon something solid. After a 
m oment of stillness a lofty flight of sprays drove hard 
with the wind upon their faces. 

" Keep her at it as long ac we can," shouted Captain 

Before Jukes had squeezed the salt water out of his 
ves all the stars had disappeared. 


fuKES was as ready a man as any half-dozen young 
mates that may be caught by casting a net upon 
the waters ; and though he had been somewhat tanen 
aback by the startling viciousness of the first squall, be 
had pulled himself together on the instant, had called 
out the hands and had rushed them along to secure 
such openings about the deck as had not been already 
battened down earlier in the evening. Shouting in his 
fresh, stentorian voice, " Jump, boys, and bear a hand ! " 
he led in the work, telling himself the while that he had 
"just expected this." 

But at the same time he was growing aware that 
this was rather more than he had expected. From the 
first stir of the air felt on his cheek the gale seemed to 
take upon itself the accumulated impetus of an avalanche. 
Heavy sprays enveloped the Nan-Shan from stenj to 
stern, and instantly in the midst of her regular rolling 
she began to jerk and plunge as though she had gone 
mad with fright. 

Jukes thought, "This is no joke." While he was 
exchanging explanatory yells with his captain, a sudden 
lowering of the darkness came upon the night, falling 
before their vision like something palpable. It was as 
if the masked lights of the world had been turned down. 
Jukes was uncritically glad to have his captain at hand 
It relieved him as though that man had, by simjiiy 


coming on deck, taken most of the gale's weight upon 
his shoulders. Such is the prestige, the privilege, and 
the burden of command. 

Captain MacWhirr could expect no relief of that sort 
from any one on earth. Such is the loneliness of com- 
mand. He was trying to see, with that watchful manner 
of a seaman who stares into the wind's eye as if into 
the eye of an adversary, to penetrate the hidden inten- 
tion and guess the aim and force of the thrust. The 
strong wind swept at him out of a vast obscurity ; he 
felt under his feet the uneasiness of his ship, and he 
could not even discern the shadow of her shape. He 
wished it were not so ; and very still he waited, feeling 
stricken by a blind man's helplessness. 

To be silent was natural to him, dark or shine. 
Jukes, at his elbow, made himself heard yelling 
cheerily in the gusts, " We must have got the worst of 
it at once, sir." A faint burst of lightning quivered all 
round, as if flashed into a cavern — into a black and 
secret chamber of the sea, with a floor of foaming crests. 

It unveiled for a sinister, fluttering moment a ragged 
mass of clouds hanging low, the lurch ot the long out- 
lines of the ship, the black figures of men caught on 
the bridge heads forward, as if petrified in the act of 
butting. The darkness palpitated down upon all this, 
and then the real thing came at last. 

It was something formidable and swift, like the 
sudden smashing of a vial of wrath. It seemed to 
explode all round the ship with an overpowering con- 
cussion and a rush of great waters, as if an immense 
dam had been blown up to windward. In an instant 
the men lost touch of each other. This is the dis- 


integrating power of a great wind : it isolates one from 
one's kind. An earthquake, a landslip, an avalanche, 
overtake a man incidentally, as it were — without passion. 
A furious gale attacks him like a personal enemy, tries 
to grasp his limbs, fastens upon his mind, seeks to rout 
his very spirit out of him. 

Jukes was driven away from his commander. He 
fancied himself whirled a great distance through the 
air. Everything disappeared — even, for a moment, his 
power of thinking ; but his hand had found one of the 
rail-stanchions. His distress was by no means alleviated 
by an inclination to disbelieve the reality of this ex- 
perience. Though young, he had seen some bad 
weather, and had never doubted his ability to imagine 
the worst ; but this was so much beyond his powers of 
fancy that it appeared incompatible with the existence 
of any ship whatever. He would have been incredulous 
about himself in the same way, perhaps, had he not 
been so harassed by the necessity of exerting a wrestling 
effort against a force trying to tear him away from his 
hold. Moreover, the conviction of not being utterly 
destroyed returned to him through the sensations of 
being half-drowned, bestially shaken, and partly 

It seemed to him he remained there precariously 
alone with the stanchion for a long, long time. The 
rain poured on him, flowed, drove in sheets. He 
breathed in gasps; and sometimes the water he 
swallowed was fresh and sometimes it was salt. For 
the most part he kept his eyes shut tight, as if suspect- 
ing his sight might be destroyed in the immense flurry 
of the elements. When he ventured to blinh hastily, he 


derived some moral support from the green gleam oi 
tl-ie starboard light shining feebly upon the fught oi 
rain and sprays. He was actually looking at it when 
its ray fell upon the uprearing sea which put it out. 
He saw the head of the wave topple over, adding the 
mite of its crash to the tremendous uproar raging 
aj ound hirn, and almost at the same instant the stanchion 
was wrenched away from his embracing arms. After a 
crushing thump on his back he found himself suddenly 
afloat and borne upwards. His first irresistible notion 
was that the whole China Sea had climbed on the 
bridge. Then, more sanely, he concluded himself gone 
overboard. All the time he was being tossed, flung, 
and rolled in great volumes of water, he kept on repeat- 
ing' mentally, with the utmost precipitation, the words: 
^* My God ! My God ! My God ! My God ! " 

All at once, in a revolt of misery and despair, he 
i*oi med the crazy resolution to get out of that. And he 
began to thresh about with his arms and legs. But 
as soon as he commenced his wretched struggles he 
discovered that he had become somehow mixed up 
with a face, an oilskin coat, somebody's boots. He 
clawed ferociously all these things in turn, lost them, 
found them again, lost them once more, and finall}'- was 
himself caught in the firm clasp of a pair of stout arms. 
He returned the embrace closely round a thick solid 
body. He had found his captain. 

They tumbled over and over, tightening their hug. 
Suddenly the water let them down with a brutal bang; 
and, stranded against the side of the whcelhouse, out of 
breath and bruised, they were left to stagger up in the 
wind and hold on where they could. 


Jukes came out of it rather horrified, as though he 
had escaped some unparalleled outrage directed at his 
feelings. It weakened his faith in himself. He started 
shouting aimlessly to the man he could feel near h'.ra 
in that fiendish blackness, " Is it you, sir ? Is it 3'ou, 
sir ? " till his temples seemed ready to burst. And he- 
heard in answer a voice, as if crying far away, as it 
screaming to him fretfully from a very great distance, 
the one word "Yes!" Other seas swept again over 
the bridge. He received them defencelessly right 
over his bare head, with both his hands engaged in 

The motion of the ship was extravagant. Her lurches 
had an appalling helplessness: she pitched as if tr'iir^r: 
a header into a void, and seemed to find a wall to hit 
every time. When she rolled she fell on her side head- 
long, and she vcould be righted back by such a demolish- 
ing blow that Jukes felt her reeling as a clubbed man 
reels before he collapses. The gale howled and scufHed 
about gigantically in the darkness, as though the entire 
world were one black gully. At certain moments the air 
streamed against the ship as if sucked through a tutjnel 
with a concentrated solid force of irhpact that seemed to 
lift her clean out of the water and keep her up f: r an 
instant with only a quiver running through her from 
end to end. And then she would begin her tumbling 
again as if dropped back into a boiling cauldron. Jukes 
tried hard to compose his mind and judge things C00II3'. 

The sea, flattened down in the heavier gusts, would 
uprise and overwhelm both ends of the Nan-Shan in 
snowy rushes of foam, expanding wide, beyond both 
rails, into the night. And on tlsis dazzling sheet, spi-ead 


under the blackness of the clouds and emitting a bluish 
glow, Captain Mac Whirr could catch a desolate glimpse 
of a few tiny specks black as ebony, the tops of the 
hatches, the battened companions, the heads of the 
covered winches, the foot of a mast. This was all he 
could see of his ship. Her middle structure, covered 
by the bridge which bore him, his mate, the closed 
whcelhouse where a man was steering shut up with the 
fear of being swept overboard together with the whole 
thing in one great crash — her middle structure was like 
a half-tide rock awash upon a coast. It was like an out- 
lying rock with the water boiling up, streaming over, 
pouring off, beating round — like a rock in the surf to 
which shipwrecked people cling before they let go — 
only it rose, it sank, it rolled continuously, without 
respite and rest, like a rock that should have miracu- 
lously struck adrift from a coast and gone wallowing 
upon the sea. 

The Nan-Shan was being looted by the storm with 
a senseless, destructive fury: tr3'sails torn out of the 
extra gaskets, double-lashed awnings blown away, 
bridge swept clean, weather-cloths burst, rails twisted, 
light-screens smashed — and two of the boats had gone 
already. They had gone unheard and unseen, melting, 
as it were, in the shock and smother of the wave. It 
was only later, when upon the white flash of another 
high sea hurling itself amidships, Jukes had a vision of 
two pairs of davits leaping black and empty out of the 
solid blackness, with one overhauled fall flying and an 
iron-bound blQ>ck capering in the air, that he became 
aware of what had happened within about three yards 
of his back. 


He poked his head forward, groping for the ear of 
his commander. His lips touched it — big, fleshy, very 
wet. He cried in an agitated tone, " Our boats are 
going now, sir." 

And again he heard that voice, forced and ringing 
feebly, but with a penetrating effect of quietness in the 
enormous discord of noises, as if sent out from some 
remote spot of peace beyond the black wastes of the 
gale ; again he heard a man's voice — the frail and 
indomitable sound that can be made to carry an infinity 
of thought, resolution and purpose, that shall be pro- 
nouncing confident words on the last day, when 
heavens fall, and justice is done — again he heard it, 
and it was crying to him, as if from very, very far — 
"All right." 

He thought he had not managed to make himself 
understood. " Our boats — I say boats — the boats, sir ! 
Two gone I " 

The same voice, within a foot of him and yet so re- 
mote, yelled sensibly, " Can't be helped." 

Captain MacWhirr had never turned his face, but 
Jukes caught some more words on the wind. 

"What can — expect — when hammering through — 

such Bound to leave — something behind — stands 

to reason." 

Watchfully Jukes listened for more. No more came. 
This was all Captain MacWhirr had to say; and Jukes 
could picture to himself rather than see the broad 
squat back before him. An impenetrable obscurity 
pressed down upon the ghostly glimmers of the sea. 
A dull conviction seized upon Jukes that there was 
nothing to be done. 



If the steering-gear did not give way, if the immense 
volumes of water did not burst the deck in or smash 
one of the hatches, if the engines did not give up, if 
way could be kept on the ship against this terrific wind, 
and she did not bury herself in one of these awful seas, 
of whose white crests alone, topping high above her 
bows, he could now and then get a sickening glimpse 
— then there was a chance of her coming out of it. 
Something within him seemed to turn over, bringing 
uppermost the feeling that the Nan-Shan was lost. 

" She's done for," he said to himself, with a sur- 
prising mental agitation, as though he had discovered 
an unexpected meaning in this thought. One of these 
things was bound to happen. Nothing could be pre- 
vented now, and nothing could be remedied. The men 
on board did not count, and the ship could not last. 
This weather was too impossible. 

Jukes felt an arm thrown heavily over his shoulders ; 
and to this overture he responded with great intelli- 
gence by catching hold of his captain round the 

They stood clasped thus in the blind night, bracing 
each other against the wind, cheek to cheek and lip lo 
ear, in the manner of two hulks lashed stem to stern 

And Jukes heard the voice of his commander hardly 
any louder than before, but nearer, as though, starting 
to march athwart the prodigious rush of the hurricane, 
it had approached him, bearing that strange effect of 
quietness like the serene glow of a halo. 

"D'ye know wliere the hands got to?" it asked, 
vigorous and evanescent at the same time, overcoming 


the strength of the wind, and swept away from Jukes 

Jukes didn't know. The}' v:ere all on the bridge 
when the real force of the hurricane struck the ship. 
He had no idea where they had crawled to. Under 
the circumstances they were nowhere, for all the use 
that could be made of them. Somehow the Captain's 
wish to know distressed Jukes. 

" Want the hrinds, sir ? " he cried apprehensively. 

"Ought to know," asserted Captain Mac Whirr. 
" Hold hard." 

They held hard. An outburst of unchained fury, a 
vicious rush of the wind absolutely steadied the ship ; 
she rocked only, quick and light like a child's cradle, 
for a terrific moment of suspense, while the whole 
atmosphere, as it seemed, streamed furiously past her, 
roaring away from the tenebrous earth. 

It suffocated them, and with eyes shut they tightened 
their grasp. What from the magnitude of the shock 
might have been a column of water running upright in 
the dark, butted against the ship, broke short, and fell 
on her bridge, crushingly, from on high, with a dead 
burying weight. 

A flying fragment of that collapse, a mere splash, 
enveloped them in one swirl from their feet over tlieir 
heads, filling violently their ears, mouths and nostrils 
with salt water. It knocked out their legs, wrenched 
in haste at their arms, seethed away swiftly under their 
chins ; and opening their eyes, they saw the piled-up 
mnsscs of foam dashing to and fro amongst what looked 
like the fragments of a sliip. She had given way as if 
driven straight in. Their panting hearts yielded too 


before the tremendous blow ; and all at once she sprang 
up again to her desperate plunging, as if trying to 
scramble out from under the ruins. 

The seas in the dark seemed to rush from all sides 
to keep her back where she might perish. There was 
hate in the way she was hat^dled, and a ferocity in the 
blows that fell. She was like a living creature thrown 
to the rage of a mob : hustled terribly, struck at, borne 
up, flung down, leaped upon. Captain MacWhirr and 
Jukes kept hold of each other, deafened by the noise, 
gagged by the wind ; and the great physical, tumult 
beating about their bodies, brought, like an unbridled 
display of passion, a profound trouble to their souls. 
One of these wild and appalling shrieks that are heard 
at times passing mysteriously overhead in the steady 
roar of a hurricane, swooped, as if borne on wings, 
upon the ship, and Jukes tried to outscream it. 

*' Will she live through this ? " 

The cry was wrenched out of his breast. It was as 
unintentional as the birth of a thought in the head, and 
he heard nothing of it himself. It all became extinct 
at once — thought, intention, effort — and of his cry the 
inaudible vibration added to the tempest waves of 
the air. 

He expected nothing from it. Nothing at all. For 
indeed what answer could be made? But after awhile 
he heard with amazement the frail and resisting voice 
in his ear, the dwarl sound, unconquered in the giant 

" She may ! " 

It was a dull 3'ell, more difficult to seize than a 
whisper And presently the voice returned again, half 


submerged in the vast crashes, like a ship battling 
against the waves of an ocean. 

** Let's hope so ! " it cried — small, lonely and un- 
moved, a stranger to the visions of hope or fear; and 
it flickered into disconnected words : " Ship . . . This 
. . . Never — Anyhow ... for the best." Jukes gave 
it up. 

Then, as if it had come suddenly upon the one thing 
fit to withstand the power of a storm, it seemed to 
gain force and firmness for the last broken shouts : 

" Keep on hammering . . . builders . . . good men 
. . . And chance it . . . engines . . . Rout . . . good 

Captain MacWhirr removed his arm from Jukes* 
shoulders, and thereby ceased to exist for his mate, so 
dark it was ; Jukes, after a tense stiffening of every 
muscle, would let himself go limp all over. The 
gnawing of profound discomfort existed side by side 
with an incredible disposition to somnolence, as though 
he had been buffeted and worried into drowsiness. 
The wind would get hold of his head and try to shake 
it off his shoulders ; his clothes, full of water, were as 
heavy as lead, cold and dripping like an armour of 
melting ice : he shivered — it lasted a long time ; and 
with his hands closed hard on his hold, he was letting 
himself sink slowly into the depths of bodily misery. 
His mind became concentrated upon himself in an 
aimless, idle way, and when something pushed lightly 
at the back of his knees he nearly, as the saying is, 
jumped out of his skin. 

In the start forward he bumped the back of Captain 
MacWhirr, who didn't move ; and then a hand gripped 

54 Typhoon 

his thigh. A lull had come, a menacing lull ot the 
wind, the holding of a stormy breath — and he felt him- 
self pawed all over. It was the boatswain. Jukes 
recognised these hands, so thick and enormous that 
they seemed to belong to some new species of man. 

The boatswain had arrived on the bridge, crawling 
on all fours against the wind, and had found the chief 
mate's legs with the top of his head. Immediately he 
crouched and began to explore Jukes' person upwards, 
with prudent, apologetic touches, as became an inferior. 

He was an ill-favoured, undersized, gruff sailor of 
fifty, coarsely hairy, short-legged, long-armed, resemb- 
hng an elderly ape. His strength was immense ; and 
in his great lumpy paws, bulging like brown boxing- 
gloves on the end of furry forearms, the heaviest objects 
were handled like playthings. Apart from the grizzled 
pelt on his chest, the menacing demeanour and the 
hoarse voice, he had none of the classical attributes oi 
his rating. His good nature almost amounted to im- 
becility : the men did what they liked with him, and he 
had not an ounce of initiative in his character, which 
was easy-going and talkative. For these reasons Jukes 
disliked him ; but Captain MacWhirr, to Jukes' scorn- 
ful disgust, seemed to regard him as a first-rate petty 

He pulled himself up by Jukes' coat, taking that 
liberty with the greatest moderation, and only so far 
as it was forced upon him by the hurricane. 

"What is it, boss'n, what is it?" yelled Jukes, 
impatiently. What could that fraud of a boss'n want 
on the bridge ? The typhoon had got on Jukes' nerves. 
The husky bellowings of the other, though unintelli- 


gible, seemed to suggest a state of lively satisfaction. 
There could be no mistake. The old fool was pleased 
with something. 

The boatswain's other hand had found some other 
bod}', for in a changed tone he began to inquire : " Is 
it you, sir ? Is it you, sir ? " The wind strangled his 

" Yes ! " cried Captain Mac Whirr. 


All that the boatswain, out of a superabundance of 
yells, could make clear to Captain Mac Whirr was the 
bizarre intelligence that " All them Chinamen in the 
fore 'tween deck have fetched away, sir." 

Jukes to leeward could hear these two shouting 
within six inches of his face, as you may hear on a still 
night half a mile away two men conversing across a 
field. He heard Captain MacWhirr's exasperated 
"What? What?" and the strained pitch of the 
other's hoarseness. " In a lump . . . seen them my- 
self. . . Awful sight, sir ... thought . . . tell 

Jukes remained indifferent, as if rendered irrespon- 
sible by the force of the hurricane, which made the 
very thought of action utterly vain. Besides, being 
very young, he had found the occupation of keeping 
Ws heart completely steeled against the worst so en- 
grossing that he had come to feel an overpowering 
dislike towards any other form of activity whatever. 
He was not scared ; he knew this because, firmly 
believing he would never see another sunrise, he re- 
mained calm in that belief. 

These are the moments of do-nothing heroics to 
which even good men surrender at times. Many 
officers of ships can no doubt recall a case in their 
experience when just such a trance of confounded 


stoicism would come all at once over a whole ship's 
company. Jukes, however, had no wide experience of 
men or storms. He conceived himself to be calm — 
inexorably calm ; but as a matter of fact he was 
daunted ; not abjectly, but only so far as a decent man 
may, without becoming loathsome to himself. 

It was rather like a forced-on numbness of spirit. 
The long, long stress of a gale does it ; the suspense 
of the interminably culminating catastrophe ; and there 
is a bodily fatigue in the mere holding on to existence 
within the excessive tumult ; a searching and insidious 
fatigue that penetrates deep into a man's breast to cast 
down and sadden his heart, which is incorrigible, and 
of all the gifts of the earth — even before life itself — 
aspires to peace. 

Jukes was benumbed much more than he supposed. 
He held on — very wet, very cold, stiff in every hmb ; 
and in a momentary hallucination of swift visions (it is 
said that a drowning man thus reviews all his life) he 
beheld all sorts of memories altogether unconnected 
with his present situation. He remembered his father, 
for instance : a worthy business man, who at an un- 
fortunate crisis in his affairs went quietly to bed and 
died forthwith in a state of resignation. Jukes did not 
recall these circumstances, of course, but remaining 
otherwise unconcerned he seemed to see distinctly the 
poor man's face ; a certain game of nap played when 
quite a boy in Table Bay on board a ship, since lost 
with all hands ; the thick eyebrows of his first skipper ; 
and without any emotion, as he might years ago have 
walked listlessly into her room and found her sitting 
there with a book, he remembered his mother — dead, 


too, now — the resolute woman, left badly off, who had 
been very firm in his bringing up. 

It could not have lasted more than a second, perhaps 
not so much. A heavy arm had fallen about his shoul- 
ders ; Captain MacWliirr's voice was speaking his name 
into his ear. 

"Jukes! Jukes!" 

He detected the tone of deep concern. The wind 
had thrown its weight on the ship, trying to pin her 
down amongst the seas. They made a clean breach 
over her, as over a deep-swimming log ; and the gathered 
weight of crashes menaced monstrously from afar. The 
breakers flung out of the night with a ghostly light on 
their crests — the light of sea-foam that in a ferocious, 
boiling-up pale flash showed upon the slender body of 
the ship the toppling rush, the downfall, and the seeth- 
ing mad scurry of each wave. Never for a moment 
could she shake herself clear of the water ; Jukes, rigid, 
perceived in her motion the ominous sign of haphazard 
floundering. She was no longer struggling intelli- 
gently. It was the beginning of the end ; and the 
note of busy concern in Captain MacWhirr's voice 
sickened him like an exhibition of blind and pernicious 

The spell of the storm had fallen upon Jukes. He 
was penetrated by it, absorbed by it ; he was rooted in 
it with a rigour of dumb attention. Captain MacWhirr 
persisted in his cries, but the wind got between them 
like a solid wedge. He hung round Jukes' neck as 
heavy as a millstone, and suddenly the sides of their 
heads knocked together. 

" Jukes 1 Mr. Jukes, I say I " 


He had to answer that voice that would not be 
silenced. He answered in the customary manner : 
". . . Yes, sir." 

And directly, his heart, corrupted by the storm that 
breeds a craving for peace, rebelled against the tyranny 
of training and command. 

Captain MacWhirr had his mate's head fixed firm in 
the crook of his elbow, and pressed it to his yelling 
lips mysteriously. Sometimes Jukes would break in, 
admonishing hastily: "Look out, sir!" or Captain 
MacWhirr would bawl an earnest exhortation to " Hold 
hard, there 1 " and the whole black universe seemed to 
reel together with the ship. 1 hey paused. She floa<;cd 
yet. And Captain MacWhirr would resume his shouts. 
" . . . Says . . . whole lot . . . fetched away . . . 
Ought to see . . . what's the matter." 

Directly the full force of the hurricane had struck the 
ship, every part of her deck became untenable ; and the 
sailors, dazed and dismayed, took shelter in the port 
alleyway under the bridge. It had a door aft, which 
they shut ; it was very black, cold, and dismal. At 
each heavy fling of the ship they would groan all 
together in the dark, and tons of water could be heard 
scuttling about as if trying to get at them from above. 
The boatswain had been keeping up a gruff talk, but a 
more unreasonable lot of men, he said afterwaids, he 
had never been with. They were snug enough there, 
out of harm's way, and not wanted to do anything, 
either ; and yet they did nothing but grumble and com- 
plain peevishly like so many sick kids. Finally, one of 
them said that if there had been at least some light to 
see each other's noses by, it wouldn't be so bad. It 


was making him cazry, he declared, to lie there in the 
dark waiting for the blamed hooker to sink. 

" Why don't you step outside, then, and be done with 
it at once ? " the boatswain turned on him. 

This called up a shout of execration. The boatswain 
found himself overwhelmed with reproaches of all sorts. 
They seemed to take it ill that a lamp was not instantly 
created for them out of nothing. They would whine 
after a light to get drowned by — anyhow ! And though 
the unreason of their revilings was patent — since no 
one could hope to reach the lamp-room, which was 
forward — he became greatly distressed. He did not 
think it was decent of them to be nagging at him like 
this. He told them so, and was met by general con- 
tumely. He sought refuge, therefore, in an embittered 
silence. At the same time their grumbling and sighing 
and muttering worried him greatly, but by-and-by it 
occurred to him that there were six globe lamps hung 
in the 'tween-deck, and that there could be no harm in 
depriving the coolies of one of them. 

The Nan-Shan had an athwartship coal-bunker, 
which, being at times used as cargo space, communi- 
cated by an iron door with the fore 'tween-deck. It was 
empty then, and its manhole was the foremost one in 
the alleyway. The boatswain could get in, therefore, 
without coming out on deck at all ; but to his great 
surprise he found he could induce no one to help him 
in taking off the manhole cover. He groped for it all 
the same, but one of the crew lying in his way refused 
to budge. 

" Why, I only want to get you that blamed light you 
are crying for," he expostulated, almost pitifully. 


Somebody told him to go and put his head in a bag. 
He regretted he could not recognise the voice, and that 
it was too dark to see, otherwise, as he said, he would 
have put a head on that son of a sea-cook, an3^way, 
sink or swim. Nevertheless, he had made up his 
mind to show them he could get a light, if he were to 
die for it. 

Through the violence of the ship's rolling, every 
movement was dangerous. To be lying down seemed 
labour enough. He nearly broke his neck dropping 
into the bunker. He fell on his back, and was sent 
shooting helplessly from side to side in the dangerous 
company of a heavy iron bar — a coal-trimmer's slice 
probably — left down there by somebody. This thing 
made him as nervous as though it had been a wild 
beast. He could not see it, the inside of the bunker 
coated with coal-dust being perfectly and impenetrably 
black; but he heard it sliding and clattering, and 
striking here and there, always in the neighbourhood oi 
his head. It seemed to make an extraordinary noise, 
too — to give heavy thumps as though it had been as big 
as a bridge girder. Tliis was remarkable enough for 
him to notice while he was flung from port to starboard 
and back ag-^'n, and clawing desperately the smooth 
sides of the bunker in the endeavour to stop himself. 
The door into the 'tween-deck not fitting quite true, he 
saw a thread of dim light at the bottom. 

Being a sailor, and a still active man, he did not want 
much of a chance to regain his feet ; and as luck would 
have it, in scrambling up he put his hand on the iron 
slice, picking it up as he rose. Otherwise lie would 
have been afraid of the thing breaking his legs, or at 


least knocking him down again. At first he stcod still. 
He felt unsafe in this darkness that seemed to make the 
ship's motion unfamiliar, unforeseen, and difficult to 
counteract. He felt so much shaken for a moment that 
he dared not move for fear of " taking charge again." 
He had no mind to get battered to pieces in that 

He had struck his head twice ; he was dazed a little. 
He seemed to hear yet so plainly the clatter and bangs 
of the iron slice flying about his ears that he tightened 
his grip to prove to himself he had it there safely in 
his hand. He was vaguely amazed at the plainness 
with which down there he could hear the gale raging. 
Its howls and shrieks seemed to take on, in the empti- 
ness of the bunker, something of the human character, 
of human rage and pain — being not vast but infinitely 
poignant. And there were, with every roll, thumps 
too — profound, ponderous thumps, as if a bulky object 
of five-ton weight or so had got play in the hold. But 
there v/as no such thing in the cargo. Something on 
deck ? Impossible. Or alongside ? Couldn't be. 

He thought all this quickly, clearly, competently, 
like a seaman, and in the end remained puzzled. This 
noise, though, came deadened from outside, together 
with the washing and pouring of water on deck above 
his head. Was it the wind ? Must be. It made down 
there a row like the shouting of a big lot of crazsd 
men. And he discovered in himself a desire for a 
light too — if onl3^ to get drowned by — and a nervous 
anxiety to get out of that bunker as quickly as 

He pulled back the bolt : the heavy iron plate turned 


on its hinges ; and it was though he had opened the 
door to the sounds of the tempest. A gust of hoarse 
yelling met him : the air was still ; and the rushing cf 
water overhead was covered by a tumult of strangled, 
throaty shrieks that produced an effect of desperate 
confusion. He straddled his legs the whole width of 
the doorway and stretched his neck. And at first he 
perceived only what he had come to seek : six small 
yellow flames swinging violently on the great body of 
the dusk. 

It was stayed like the gallery of a mine, with a row 
of stanchions in the middle, and cross-beams over- 
head, penetrating into the gloom ahead — indefinitely. 
And to port there loomed, like the caving in of one of 
the sides, a bulky mass with a slanting outline. The 
whole place, with the shadows and the shapes, moved 
all the time. The boatswain glared : the ship lurched 
to starboard, and a great howl came from that mass 
that had the slant of fallen earth. 

Pieces of wood whizzed past. Planks, he thought, 
inexpressibly startled, and flinging back his head. At 
his feet a man went sliding over, open-eyed, on his 
back, straining with uplifted arms for nothing : and 
another came bounding like a detached stone with his 
acad between his legs and his hands clenched. Ili.^ 
nigtail whipped in the air; he made a grab at tlie 
:)oatswaiii's legs, and from his opened hand a bripjit 
A'hite disc rolled against the boatswain's foot. He 
■ccogniscd a silver dollar, and yelled at it with astonish-^ 
ncnt. With a precipitated sound of tiampling and 
jluiftling of bare feet, and with guttural cries, the 
nound of writhing bodies piled up to port dLl.iched 


itself from the ship's side and shifted to starboard, 
sliding, inert and struggling, to a dull, brutal thump. 
The cries ceased. The boatswain heard a long moan 
through the roar and whistling of the wind ; he saw 
an inextricable confusion of heads and shoulders, 
aaked soles kicking upwards, fists raised, tumbling 
backs, legs, pigtails, faces. 

" Good Lord ! " he cried, horrified, and banged-to the 
iron door upon this vision. 

This was what he had come on the bridge to tell. 
He couki not keep it to himself; and on board ship 
there is only one man to whom it is worth while to 
unburden yourself. On his passage back the hands in 
the alleyway swore at him for a fool. Why didn't he 
bring that lamp ? What the devil did the coolies matter 
to anybody ? And when he came out, the extremity of 
the ship made what went on inside of her appear of 
little iaoment. 

At rst he thought he had left the alleyway in the 
very moment of her sinking. The bridge ladders had 
been washed away, but an enormous sea filling the 
after-deck floated him up. After that he had to lie on 
his stomach for some time, holding to a ring-bolt, getting 
his breath now and then, and swallowing salt water. 
He struggled farther on his hands and knees, too 
frightened and distracted to turn back. In this way 
he reached the after-part of the wheelhouse. In that 
comparatively sheltered spot he found the second mate. 
The boatswain was pleasantly surprised — his impression 
being that everybody on deck must have been washed 
away a long time ago. He asked eagerly where the 
captain was. 


The second mate was lying low, like a malignant 
little animal under a hedge. 

" Captain ? Gone overboard, after getting us into this 
mess." The mate, too, for all he knew or cared. Another 
fool. Didn't matter. Everybody was going by-and-by. 

The boatswain crawled out again into the strength of 
the wind ; not because he much expected to find any- 
body, he said, but just to get away from " that man." 
He crawled out as outcasts go to face an inclement 
world. Hence his great joy at finding Jukes and the 
Captain. But what was going on in the 'tween-deck 
was to him a minor matter by that time. Besides, it 
was difficult to make yourself heard. But he managed 
to convey the idea that the Chinamen had broken 
adrift together with their boxes, and that he had come 
up on purpose to report this. As to the hands, they 
were all right. Then, appeased, he subsided on the 
leek in a sitting posture, hugging with his arms and 
i jgs the stand of the engine-room telegraph — an iron 
asting as thick as a post. When that went, why, he 
expected he would go too. He gave no more thought 
to the coohes. 

Captain MacWhirr had made Jukes understand that 
he wanted him to go down below — to see. 

" What am I to do then, sir ? " And the trembling of 
his whole wet body caused Jukes' voice to sound like 

"See first . . . Boss'n . . . says . . . adrift." 

"That boss'n is a confounded fool," howled Jukes 

The absurdity of the demand made upon him revolted 


Jukes. He was as unwilling to go as if the moment he 
had left the deck the ship were sure to sink. 

" I must know . . . can't leave . . ." 

" They'll settle, sir." 

" Fight . . . boss'n says they fight. , , , Why ? 
Can't have . . . fighting . . . board ship. . . . Much 
rather keep you here . . . case ... I should . . . 
washed overboard m3^self. . . . Stop it . , . some way. 
You see and tell me . . . through engine-room tube. 
Don't want you . r . come up here . . . too often. 
Dangerous . . . moving about . . . deck." 

Jukes, held with his head in chancery, had to listen 
to what seemed horrible suggestions. 

" Don't want . . . you get lost ... so long . . . 
ship isn't. . . . Rout . . . Good man . . . Ship . . . 
may . . . through this ... all right yet." 

All at once Jukes understood he would have to go. 

" Do you think she may?" he screamed. 

But the wind devoured the repl}', out of which Jukes 
heard only the one word, pronounced with great energy 
"... Always . . ." 

Captain Mac Whirr released Jukes, and bending over 
the boatswain, yelled " Get back with the mate." Jukes 
only knew that the arm was gone ofF his shoulders. He 
was dismissed with his orders — to do what ? He was 
exasperated into letting go his hold carelessly, and on 
the instant was blown away. It seemed to him that 
nothing could stop him from being blown right over the 
stern. He flung himself down hastily, and the boat- 
swain, who was following, fell on him. 

" Don't you get up yei, sir," cried the boatswain. 
" No hurry 1 " 


A sea swept over. Jukes understood the boatswain 
to splutter that the bridge ladders were gone. " I'll 
lover you down, sir, by your hands," he screamed. 
He shouted also something about the smoke-stack 
being as likely to go overboard as not. Jukes thought 
it very possible, and imagined the fires out, the ship 
helpless. . . . The boatswain by his side kept on 
yehing. "What? What is it?" Jukes cried dis- 
tressfully ; and the other repeated, " What would my 
old woman say if she saw me now ? " 

In the alleyway, where a lot of water had got in and 
splashed in the dark, the men were still as death, till 
Jukes stumbled against one of them and cursed him 
savagely for being in the way. Two or three voices 
then asked, eag^r and weak, "Any chance for us, 

" What's the matter with you fools ? " he said 
brutally. He felt as though he could throw himself 
down amongst them and never move any more. But 
tliey seemed cheered; and in the midst of obsequious 
warnings, " Look out ! Mind that manhole Hd, sir," 
they lowered him into the bunker. The boatswain 
tumbled down after him, and as soon as he had picked 
liimself up he remarked, " She would say, * Serve you 
right, you old fool, for going to sea.'" 

The boatswain had some means, and made a point 
of alludin-- to them frequently. His wife — a fat woman 
— and two grown-up daughters kept a greengrocer's 
shop in the East-end of London. 

In the dark, Jukes, unsteady on his legs, listened to 
a faint thunderous patter. A deadened screaming went 
on steadily at his elbow, as it were ; and from above 


the louder tumult of the storm descended upon these 
near sounds. His head swam. To him, too, in that 
bunker, the motion of the ship seemed novel and 
menacing, sapping his resolution as though he had 
never been afloat before. 

He had half a mind to scramble out again ; but the 
remembrance of Captain MacWhirr's voice made this^ 
impossible. His orders were to go and see. What 
was the good of it, he wanted to know. Enraged, he 
told himself he would see — of course. But the boat- 
swain, staggering clumsily, warned him to be careful 
how he opened that door ; there was a blamed fight 
going on. And Jukes, as if in great bodily pain, 
desired irritably to know what the devil they were 
fighting for. 

" Dollars ! Dollars, sir. All their rotten chests got 
burst open. Blamed money skipping all over the place, 
and they are tumbling after it head over heels — tearing 
and biting like anj^thing. A regular little hell in 

Jukes convulsively opened the door. The short 
boatswain peered under his arm. 

One of the lamps had gone out, broken perhaps. 
Rancorous, guttural cries burst out loudly on their 
ears, and a strange panting sound, the working of all 
these straining breasts. A hard blow hit the side of the 
ship : water fell above with a stunning shock, and in 
the forefront of the gloom, where the air was reddish 
and thick. Jukes saw a head bang the deck violently, 
two thick calves waving on high, muscular arms twined 
round a naked body, a yellow-face, open-mouthed and 
with a set wild stare, look up and slide away. An empty 


chest clattered turning over ; a man fell head first with 
a jump, as if lifted by a kick ; and farther off, indis- 
tinct, others streamed like a mass of rolling stones 
down a bank, thumping the deck with their feet and 
flourishing their arms wildly. The hatchway ladder 
was loaded with coolies swarming on it like bees on a 
branch. They hung on the steps in a crawling, stirring 
cluster, beating madly with their fists the underside of 
the battened hatch, and the headlong rush of the water 
above was heard in the intervals of their yelling. The 
ship heeled over more, and they began to drop off: 
first one, then two, then all the rest went away together, 
falling straight off with a great cry. 

Jukes was confounded. The boatswain, with gruff 
anxiety, begged him, " Don't you go in there, sir." 

The whole place seemed to twist upon itself, jumping 
incessantly the while ; and when the ship rose to a sea 
Jukes fancied that all these men would be shot upon 
him in a body. He backed out, swung the door to, 
and with trembling hands pushed at the bolt. . . . 

As soon as his mate had gone Captain MacWhirr, 
left alone on the bridge, sidled and staggered as far as 
the wheel-house. Its door being hinged forward, he 
had to fight the gale for admittance, and when at last he 
managed to enter, it was with an instantaneous clatter 
and a bang, as though he had been fired through the 
wood. He stood within, holding on to the handle. 

The steering-gear leaked steam, and in the confined 
space the glass of the binnacle made a shiny oval of 
light in a thin white fog. The wind howled, hummed, 
whistled, with sudden booming gusts that rattled the 
doors and shutters in the vicious patter of sprays. 


Two coils of lead-line and a small canvas bag hung on 
a long lanyard, swung wide off, and came back clinging 
to the bulkheads. The gratings underfoot were nearly 
afloat; with every sweeping blow of a sea, water 
squirted violently through the cracks all round the 
door, and the man at the helm had flung down his cap, 
his coat, and stood propped against the gear-casing in 
a stripped cotton shirt open on his breast. The little 
brass wheel in his hands had the appearance of a bright 
and fragile toy. The cords of his neck stood hard and 
lean, a dark patch lay in the hollow of his throat, and 
his face was still and sunken as in death. 

Captain MacWhirr wiped his eyes. The sea that 
had nearly taken him overboard had, to his great 
annoyance, washed his sou'-wester hat off his bald head. 
The fluffy, fair hair, soaked and darkened, resembled a 
mean skein of cotton threads festooned round his bare 
skull. His face, glistening with sea-water, had been 
made crimson with the wind, with the sting of sprays. 
He looked as though he had come off sweating from 
before a furnace. 

" You here ? " he muttered heavily. 

The second mate had found his way into the wheel- 
house some time before. He had fixed himself in a 
corner with his knees up, a fist pressed against each 
temple; and this attitude suggested rage, sorrow, 
resignation, surrender, with a sort of concentrated un- 
forgiveness. He said mournfully and defiantly, "Well, 
it's my watch below now : ain't it ? " 

The steam 'gear clattered, stopped, clattered again ; 
and the helmsman's eyeballs seemed to project out of a 
hungry face as if the compass card behind the binnacle 


glass had been meat. God knows how long he had been 
left there to steer, as if forgotten by all his shipmates. 
The bells had not been struck ; there had been no 
reliefs; the ship's routine had gone downwind; but 
he was trying to keep her head north-north-east. The 
rudder might have been gone for all he knew, the fires 
out, the engines broken down, the ship ready to roll 
over like a corpse. He was anxious not to get muddled 
and lose control of her head, because the compass-card 
swung far both ways, wriggling on the pivot, and 
sometimes seemed to whirl right round. He suffered 
from mental stress. He was horribly afraid, also, of 
the wheelhouse going. Mountains of water kept on 
tumbling against it. When the ship took one of her 
desperate dives the corners of his lips twitched. 

Captain MacWhirr looked up at the wheelhouse 
clock. Screwed to the bulk-head, it had a white face 
on which the black hands appeared to stand quite still. 
It was half-past one in the morning. 

*' Another day," he muttered to himself. 

The second mate heard him, and lifting his head as 
one grieving amongst ruins, "You won't see it break," 
he exclaimed. His wrists and his knees could be seen 
to shake violently. " No, by God I You won't . , ." 

He took his face again between his fists. 

The body of the helmsman had moved slightly, but 
his head didn't budge on his neck, — like a stone head 
fixed to look one way from a column. During a roll 
that all but took his booted legs from under him, and 
in the very stagger to save himself, Captain Mac- 
Whirr said austerely, "Don't you pay any attention 
to what that man says." And then, with an indefinable 


change of tone, very grave, he added, " He isn't on 

The sailor said nothing. 

The hurricane boomed, shaking the little place, 
which seemed air-tight ; and the light of the binnacle 
flickered all the time. 

" You haven't been relieved," Captain MacWhirr 
went on, looking down. " I want you to stick to the 
helm, though, as long as you can. You've got the hang 
of her. Another man coming here might make a mess 
of it. Wouldn't do. No child's play. And the hands are 
probably busy with a job down below. . . . Think you 
can ? " 

The steering gear leaped into an abrupt short clatter, 
stopped smouldering like an ember ; and the still man, 
with a motionless gaze, burst out, as if all the passion 
in him had gone into his lips : " By Heavens, sir I I 
can steer for ever if nobody talks to me." 

" Oh ! aye ! All right, . . ." The Captain lifted his 
eyes for the first time to the man, "... Hackett." 

And he seemed to dismiss this matter from his mind. 
He stooped to the engine-room speaking-tube, blew in, 
and bent his head. Mr. Rout below answered, and at 
once Captain MacWhirr put his lips to the mouthpiece. 

With the uproar of the gale around him he applied 
alternately his lips and his ear, and the engineer's voice 
mounted to him, harsh and as if out of the heat of an 
engagement. One of the stokers was disabled, the 
others had given in, the second engineer and the 
donkey-man were firing-up. The third engineer was 
standing by the steam-valve. The engines were being 
tended by hand. How was it above ? 


" Bad enough. It mostly rests with you," said Cap- 
tain MacWhirr. Was the mate down there yet ? No ? 
Well, he would be presently. Would Mr. Rout let him 
talk through the speaking-tube ? — through the deck 
speaking-tube, because he — the Captain — was going 
out again on the bridge directly. There was some 
trouble amongst the Chinamen. They were fighting, 
it seemed. Couldn't allow fighting anyhow. . . . 

Mr. Rout had gone away, and Captain MacWhirr 
could feel against his ear the pulsation of the engines, 
like the beat of the ship's heart. Mr. Rout's voice 
down there shouted something distantly. The ship 
pitched headlong, the pulsation leaped with a hissing 
tumult, and stopped dead. Captain MacWhirr's face 
was impassive, and his eyes were fixed aimlessly on 
the crouching shape of the second mate. Again Mr. 
Rout's voice cried out in the depths, and the pulsating 
beats recommenced, with slow strokes — growing 

Mr. Rout had returned to the tube. " It don't matter 
much what they do," he said hastily ; and then, with 
irritation, " She takes these dives as if she never meant 
to come up again." 

" Awful sea," said the Captain's voice from above. 

" Don't let me drive her under," barked Solomon 
Rout up the pipe. 

" Dark and rain. Can't see what's coming," uttered 
the voice. " Must — keep — her — moving — enough to 
steer — and chance it," it went on to state distinctly. 

" I am doing as much as I dare." 

•' We arc — getting — smashed up — a good deal up 
here," proceeded the voice mildly. " Doing — fairly 


well — tho'igh. Of course, if the wheelhouse should 
go . . . 

Mr. Rout, bending an attentive ear, muttered peev- 
ishly something under his breath. 

But the deliberate voice up tijere became animated 
to ask : " Jukes turned up yet ? " Then, after a short 
wait, "I wish he would bear a hand. I want him to be 
done and come up here in caie oi" anything. To look 
after the ship. I am all alone. The second mate's 
lost. . . ." 

" What ? " shouted Mr. Rout into the engine-room, 
taking his head aAvay. Then up the tube he cried, 
" Gone overboard ? " and clapped his ear to. 

"Lost his nerve," the voice from above continued 
in a matter-of-fact tone. " Damned awkward circum- 

Mr, Rout, listening with bowed neck, opened his eyes 
wide at tliis. However, he heard something like the 
sounds of a scuffle and broken exclamations coming 
down to him. He strained his hearing; and all the 
time Beale, the third engineer, with his arms uplifted, 
held between the palms of his hands the rim of a little 
black wheel projecting at the side of a big copper pip2. 
He seemed to be poising it above his head, as though 
it were a correct attitude in some sort of game. 

To steady himself, he pres^sed his shoulder against 
the white bulkhead, one knee bent, and a sweat-rag 
tacked in his belt hanging on his hip. His smooth 
cheek was begrimed and flushed, and the coal dust on 
his eyelids, like the black pencilling of a make-up, 
enhanced the liquid brilliance of the whites, giving to 
his youthful face something: of a feminine, exotic and 


fascinating aspect. When the siiip pitched he would 
with hasty movements of his hands screw hard at the 
little wheel. 

** Gone crazy," began the Captain's voice suddenly io 
the tube. " Rushed at me. . . . Just now. Had to knock 
him down. . . . This minute. You heard, Mr. Rout ? " 

" The devil ! " muttered Mr. Rout. " Look out, 

His shout rang out Hke the blast of a warning 
trumpet, between the iron walls of the enrrine-room. 
Painted white, they rose high into the dusk of the sky- 
light, sloping like a roof; and the whole lofty space re- 
sembled the interior of a monument, divided by floors of 
iron grating, with lights flickering at different levels, and 
a mass ot gloom lingering in the middle, within the col- 
umnar stir of machinery under the motionless swelHng of 
the cylinders. A loud and wild resonance, made up of all 
the noises of the hurricane, dwelt in the still warmth of 
the air. There was in it the smell of hot metal, of oil, 
and a slight mist of steam. The blows of the sea 
seemed to traverse it in an unringing, stunning shock, 
from side to side. 

Gleams, like pale long flames, trembled upon the 
polish of metal ; from the flooring below the enormous 
crank-heads emerged in their turns with a flash of 
brass and steel — gjingovcr; while the connecting-rods, 
big-jointed, like skeleton limbs, seemed to thrust thcra 
down and pull them up again with an irresistible pre- 
cision. And deep in the half-light other rods dodged 
deliberately to and fro, crosshcads nodded, discs of 
metal rubbed smoothly against each other, slow and 
gentle, in a commingling of shadows and gleams. 


Sometimes all those powerful and unerring move- 
ments would slow down simultaneously, as if they 
had been the functions of a living organism, stricken 
suddenly by the blight of languor; and Mr. Rout's 
eyes would blaze darker in his long sallow face. 
He was fighting this fight in a pair of carpet slippers. 
A short shiny jacket barely covered his loins, and his 
white wrists protruded far out of the tight sleeves, as 
though the emergency had added to his stature, had 
lengthened his limbs, augmented his pallor, hollowed 
his eyes. 

He moved, climbing high up, disappearing low down, 
with a restless, purposeful industry, and when he stood 
still, holding the guard-rail in front of the starting-gear, 
he would keep glancing to the right at the steam-gauge, 
at the water-gauge, fixed upon the white wall in the 
light of a swaying lamp. The mouths of two speaking- 
tubes gaped stupidly at his elbow, and the dial of the 
engine-room telegraph resembled a clock of large dia- 
meter, bearing on its face curt words instead of figures. 
The grouped letters stood out heavily black, around 
the pivot-head of the indicator, emphatically symbolic 
of loud exclamations : Ahead, Astern, Slow, Half, 
Stand by ; and the fat black hand pointed downwards 
to the word Full, which, thus singled out, captured 
the eye as a sharp cry secures attention. 

The wood-encased bulk of the low-pressure cylinder, 
frowning portly from above, emitted a faint wheeze 
at every thrust, and except for that low hiss the engines 
worked their steel limbs headlong or slow with a silent, 
determined smoothness. And all this, the white walls, 
the moving steel, the floor plates under Solomon 


Rout's feet, the floors of iron grating above his head, 
the dusk and the gleams, uprose and sank continuously, 
with one accord, upon the harsh wash of the waves 
against the ship's side. The whole loftiness of the 
place, booming hollow to the great voice of the wind, 
swayed at the top like a tree, would go over bodily, as if 
borne down this way and that by the tremendous blasts. 

"You've got to hurry up," shouted Mr. Rout, as 
soon as he saw Jukes appear in the stokehold doorway. 

Jukes' glance was wandering and tipsy ; his red face 
was puffy, as though he had overslept himself He 
had had an arduous road, and had travelled over it with 
immense vivacity, the agitation of his mind corre- 
sponding to the exertions of his body. He had rushed 
up out of the bunker, stumbling in the dark alleyway 
amongst a lot of bewildered men who, trod upon, 
asked "What's up, sir?" in awed mutters all round 
him ; — down the stokehold ladder, missing many iron 
rungs in his hurry, down into a place deep as a well, 
black as Tophet, tipping over back and forth like a 
see-saw. The water in the bilges thundered at each 
roll, and lumps of coal skipped to and fro, from end to 
end, rattling like an avalanche of pebbles on a slope of 

Somebody in there moaned with pain, and somebody 
else could be seen crouching over what seemed the prone 
body of a dead man ; a lusty voice blasphemed ; and 
the glow under each fire-door was like a pool of flaming 
blood radiating quietly in a velvety blackness. 

A gust of wind struck upon the nape of Jukes' neck 
and next moment he felt it streaming about his wet ankles. 
The stokehold ventilators hummed : in front of the six 


fire-doors two wild figures, stripped to the waist, stag* 
gered and stooped, wrestling with two shovels. 

" Hallo ! Plenty of draught now," yelled the second 
engineer at once, as though he had been all the time 
looking out for Jukes. The donkeyman, a dapper little 
chap with a dazzling fair skin and a tiny, gingery 
moustache, worked in a sort of mute transport. They 
were keeping a full head of steam, and a profound 
rumbling, as of an empty furniture van trotting over a 
bridge, made a sustained bass to all the other noises of 
the place. 

" Blowing off all the time," went on yelling the 
second. With a sound as of a hundred scoured sauce- 
pans, the orifice of a ventilator spat upon his shoulder 
a sudden gush of salt v/ater, and he volleyed a stream 
of curses upon all things on earth including his own 
soul, ripping and raving, and all the time attending to 
his business. With a sharp clash of metal the ardent 
pale glare of the fire opened upon his bullet head, 
showing his spluttering lips, his insolent face, and with 
another clang closed like the white-hot wink of an iron eye. 

"Where's the blooming ship? Can you tell me? 
blast my eyes 1 Under water — or what ? It's coming 
down here in tons. Are the condemned cowls gone to 
Hades ? Hey ? Don't you know anything — you J0II3' 
sailor-man you . . . ? " 

Jukes, after a bewildered moment, had been helped 
by a roll to dart through ; and as soon as his eyes took 
in the comparative vastness, peace and brilliance of the 
engine-room, the ship, setting her stern heavily in the 
water, sent him charging head down upon Mr. Rout. 

The chief's arm, long like a tentacle, and straighten- 


ing as if worked by a spring, went out to meet him, 
and deflected his rush into a spin towards the speaking- 
tubes. At the same time Mr. Rout repeated earnestly : 
" You've got to hurry up, whatever it is." 

Jukes yelled "Are you there, sir?" and listened. 
Nothing. Suddenly the roar of the wind fell straight 
into his ear, but presently a small voice shoved aside 
the shouting hurricane quietly. 

"You, Jukes?— Well?" 

Jukes was ready to talk: it was only time that 
seemed to be wanting. It was easy enough to account 
for everything. He could perfectly imagine the coolies 
battened down in the reeking 'tween-deck, lying sick 
and scared between the rows of chests. Then one of 
these chests — or perhaps several at once — breaking 
loose in a roll, knocking out others, sides splitting, lids 
flying open, and all these clumsy Chinamen rising up 
in a body to save their property. Afterwards every 
fling of the ship would hurl that tramping, yelling mob 
here and there, from side to side, in a whirl of smashed 
wood, torn clothing, rolling dollars. A struggle once 
started, they would be unable to stop themselves. 
Nothing could stop them now except main force. It 
was a disaster. He had seen it, and that was all he 
could say. Some of them must be dead, he believed. 
The rest would go on fighting. . . . 

He sent up his words, tripping over each other, 
crowding the narrow tube. They mounted as if into a 
silence of an enlightened comprehension dwelling alone 
up there with a storm. And Jukes wanted to be dis- 
missed from the face of that odious trouble intruding 
on the great need of the ship. 

He waited. Before his eyes the engines turned with 
slov/ labour, that in the moment of going off into a 
mad fling would stop dead at Mr. Rout's shout, 
" Look out, Beale ! " They paused in an intelligent 
immobility, stilled in mid -stroke, a heavy crank arrested 
on the cant, as if conscious of danger and the passage 
of time. Then, with a " Now, then ! " from the chief, 
and the sound of a breath expelled through clenched 
teeth, they would accomplish the interrupted revolution 
and begin another. 

There was the prudent sagacity of wisdom and the 
deliberation of enormous strength in their movements. 
This was their work — this patient coaxing of a dis- 
tracted ship over the fury of the waves and into the 
very eye of the wind. At times Mr. Rout's chin would 
sink on his breast, and he watched them with knitted 
eyebrows as if lost in thought. 

The voice that kept the hurricane out of Jukes' ear 
began : " Take the hands with you . . . ," and left off 

" What could I do with them, sir ? " 

A harsh, abrupt, imperious clang exploded suddenly. 
The three pairs of eyes flew up to the telegraph dial to 
see the hand jump from Full to Stop, as if snatched 
by a devil. And then these three men in the engiue- 
room had the intimate sensation of a check upon the 


ship, of a strange shrinking, as if she had gathered 
herself for a desperate leap. ^ 

" Stop her ! " bellowed Mr. Rout. 

Nobody — not even Captain MacWhirr, who alone 
on deck had caught sight of a white hne of foam 
coming on at such a height that he couldn't believe his 
eyes — nobody was to know the steepness of that sea 
and the awful depth of the hollow the hurricane had 
scooped out behind the running wall of water. 

It raced to meet the ship, and, with a pause, as of 
girding the loins, the Nan-Shan lifted her bows and 
leaped. The flames in all the lamps sank, darkening 
the engine-room. One went out. With a tearing 
crash and a swirling, raving tumult, tons of water fell 
upon the deck, as though the ship had darted under 
the foot of a cataract. 

Down there they looked at each other, stunned. 

" Swept from end to end, by God ! " bawled Jukes. 

She dipped into the hollow straight down, as if going 
over the edge of the world. The engine-room toppled 
forward menacingly, like the inside of a tower nodding 
in an earthquake. An awful racket, of iron things fall- 
ing, came from the stokehold. She hung on this 
appalling slant long enough for Beale to drop on his 
hands and knees and begin to crawl as if he meant to 
fly on all fours out of the engine-rcojii, and for Mr. 
Rout to turn his head slowly, rigid, cavernous, with the 
lower jaw dropping. Jukes had shut his eyes, and his 
face in a moment became hopelessly blank and gentle, 
like the face of a blind man. 

At last she rose slowly, staggering, as if she had to 
lift a mountain with her bows. 


Mr. Rout shut his mouth ; Jukes blinked ; and little 
Beale stood up hastily. 

"Another one like this, and that's the last of her," 
cried the chief. 

He and Jukes looked at each other, and the same 
t' ought came into their heads. The Captain ! Every- 
thing must have been swept away. Steering gear gone 
— ship like a log. All over directly. 

" Rush ! " ejaculated Mr. Rout thickly, glaring with 
enlarged, doubtful eyes at Jukes, who answered him 
by an irresolute glance. 

The clang of the telegraph gong soothed them in- 
stantly. The black hand dropped in a flash from Stop 
to Full. 

" Now then, Beale ! " cried Mr. Rout. 

The steam hissed low. The piston-rods slid in and 
out. Jukes put his ear to the tube. The voice was 
ready for him. It said : " Pick up all the money. Bear 
a hand now. I'll want you up here." And that was all. 

" Sir ? " called up Jukes. There was no answer. 

He staggered away like a defeated man from the field 
of battle. He had got, in some way or other, a cut 
above his left eyebrow — a cut to the bone, tie was not 
aware of it in the least : quantities of the China Sea, 
large enough to break his neck for him, had gone over 
his head, had cleaned, washed, and salted that wound. 
It did not bleed, but only g'ped red ; and this gash 
o\ er the e3'e, his dishevelled hair, the disorder of his 
cljlhes, gave him the aspect of a man worsted in a fight 
with fists. 

" Got to pick up the dollars." He appealed to Mr. 
Rout, smiling pitifully at random. 


«• What's that ? " asked Mr. Rout wildly. " Pick up 
. . . ? I don't care. ..." Then, quivering in every 
muscle, but with an exaggeration of paternal tone, "Go 
away now, for God's sake. You deck people '11 drive 
me silly. There's that second mate been going for the 
old man. Don't you knov/ ? You fellows are going 
wrong for want of something to do. . . ." 

At these words Jukes discovered in himself the 
beginnings of anger. Want of something to do — in- 
deed. . . . Full of hot scorn against the chief, he 
turned to go the way he had come. In the stoke- 
hold the plump donkeyman toiled with his shovel 
mutely, as if his tongue had been cut out ; but the 
second was carrying on like a noisy, undaunted maniac, 
who had preserved his skill in the art of stoking under' 
a marine boiler. 

" Hallo, you wandering officer ! Hey I Can't 3'ou 
get some of your slush-slingers to wind up a few of 
them ashes ? I am getting choked with them here. 
Curse it ! Hallo 1 Hey 1 Remember the articles : 
Sailors and firemen to assist each other. Hey ! D'ye 
hear ? " 

Jukes was climbing out frantically, and the other, 
lifting up his face after him, howled, " Can't you 
speak ? What are you poking about here for ? What's 
your game, anyhow ? " 

A frenzy possessed Jukes. By the time he was back 
amongst the men in the darkness of the alleyway, he 
felt ready to wring all their necks at the slightest si'th 
of hanging back. The very thought of it exasperated 
him. //? couldn't hang back. They shouldn't. 

The impetuosity with which he came amongst them 


carried them along. They had already been excited 
and startled at all his comings and goings — by the 
fierceness and rapidity of his movements ; and more 
felt than seen in his rushes, he appeared formidable — 
bvisied with matters of life and death that brooked no 
delay. At his first word he heard them drop into the 
bunker one after another obediently, with heavy 

They were not clear as to what would have to be 
done. ** What is it ? What is it ? " they were asking 
each other. The boatswain tried to explain ; the 
sounds of a great scuffle surprised them : and the 
mighty shocks, reverberating awfully in the black 
bunker, kept them in mind of their danger. When the 
boatswain threw open the door it seemed that an eddy 
of the hurricane, stealing through the iron sides of 
the ship, had set all these bodies whirling like dust : 
there came to them a confused uproar, a tempestuous 
tumult, a fierce mutter, gusts of screams dying away, 
and the tramping of feet mingling with the blows of the 

For a moment they glared amazed, blocking the 
doorway. Jukes pushed through them brutally. He 
said nothing, and simply darted in. Another lot of 
coolies on the ladder, struggling suicidally to break 
through the battened hatch to a swamped deck, fell off 
as before, and he disappeared under them like a man 
overtaken by a landslide. 

The boatswain yelled excitedly : " Come along. Get 
the mate out. He'll be trampled to death. Come on." 

They charged in, stamping on breasts, on fingers, on 
faces, catching their feet in heaps of clothing, kicking 


broken wood ; but before they could get hold of him 
Jukes emerged waist deep in a multitude of clawing 
hands. In the instant he had been lost to view, all the 
buttons of his jacket had gone, its back had got split up 
to the collar, his v aistcoat had been torn open. The 
central strugghng mass of Chinamen went over to the 
roll, dark, indistinct, helpless, with a wild gleam of 
many eyes in the dim light of the lamps. 

"Leave me alone — damn you. I 2.m all right,'* 
screeched Jukes. "Drive them forward. Watch your 
chance when she pitches. Forward with 'em. Drive 
them against the bulkhead. Jam 'em up." 

The rush of the sailors into the seething 'tween- 
deck was like a splash of cold water into a boiling 
cauldron. The comm tion sank for a moment. 

The bulk of Chinamen were locked in such a com- 
pact scrimmage that, linking their arms and aided by 
an appalling dive of the ship, the seamen sent it forward 
in one great shove, like a solid block. Behind their 
backs small clusters and loose bodies tumbled from 
side to side. 

The boatswain performed prodigious feats of strength. 
With his long arms open, and each great paw clutching 
at a stanchion, he stopped the rush of seven entwined 
Chinamen rolling like a boulder. His joints cracked ; 
he said, *' Ha ! " and they flew apart. But the carpenter 
showed the greater intelligence Without saying a 
word to anybody he went back into the alleyway, 
to fetch several coils of cargo gear he had seen there — 
chain and rope. With these life-liies were rigged. 

There was really no resistance. The struggle, how- 
ever it began, had turned into a scramble of blind panic. 


If the coolies had started up Tcfter their scattered dollars 
they were by that thne fighting only for their footing 
They took each other by the throat merely to save 
themselves from being hurled about. Whoever got a 
hold anywhere would kick at the others who caught 
at his legs and hung on, till a roll sent them flying 
together across the deck. 

The coming of the white devils was a terror. Had 
they come to kill? The individuals torn out of the 
ruck became very limp in the seamen's hands : some, 
dragged aside by the heels, were passive, like dead 
bodies, with open, fixed eyes. Here and there a coolie 
would fail on his knees as if begging for mercy; 
several, whom the excess of fear made unruly, were 
hit with hard fists between the eyes, and cowered ; 
while those v.'ho were hurt submitted to rough handling, 
blinking rapidly without a plaint. Faces streamed with 
blood ; there were raw places on the shaven heads, 
scratches, bruises, torn wounds, gashes. The broken 
porcelain out of the chests was mostly responsible for 
the latter. Here and there a Chinaman, wild-eyed, with 
his tail unplaited, nursed a bleeding sole. 

They had been ranged closely, after having been 
shaken into submission, cuffed a little to allay excite- 
ment, addressed in gruff words of encouragement that 
sounded like promises of evil. They sat on the deck 
in ghastly, drooping rows, and at the end the carpenter, 
with two hands to help him, moved busily from place 
to place, setting taut and hitching the life-lines. The 
boatswain, with one leg and one arm embracing a 
stanchion, struggled with a lamp pressed to his breast, 
trying to get a light, and growhng all the time hke an 


industrious gorilla. The figures of seamen stooped 
repeatedly, with the movements of gleaners, and every- 
thing was being flung into the bunker: clothing, 
smashed wood, broken china, and the dollars too, 
gathered up in men's jackets. Now and then a sailor 
would stagger towards the door^vay with his arms full 
of rubbish ; and dolorous, slanting eyes followed his 

With every roll of the ship the long rows of sitting 
Celestials would sway forward brokenly, and her head- 
long dives knocked together the line of shaven polls 
from end to end. When the wash of water rolling on 
the deck died away for a moment, it seemed to Jukes, 
yet quivering from his exertions, that in liis mad 
struggle down there he had overcome the wind some- 
how: that a silence had fallen upon the ship, a silence 
in which the sea struck thunderously at her sides. 

Everything had been cleared out of the 'tween-deck 
— all the wreckage, as the men said. They stood erect 
and tottering above the level of heads and drooping 
shoulders. Here and there a coolie sobbed for his 
breath. Where the high light fell, Jukes could see the 
salient ribs of one, the yellow, wistful face of another ; 
bowed necks ; or would meet a dull stare directed at 
his face. He was amazed that there had been no 
corpses ; but the lot of them seemed at their last gasp, 
and they appeared to him more pitiful than if they had 
been all dead. 

Suddenly one of the coolies began to speak. The 
light came and went on his lean, straining face ; he 
threw his head up like a baying hound. From the 
bunker came the sounds of knocking and the tinkle of 


some dollars rolling loose ; he stretched out his arm^ 
his mouth yawned black, and the incomprehensible 
guttural hooting sounds, that did not seem to belong to 
a human language, penetrated Jukes with a strange 
emotion as if a brute had tried to be eloquent. 

Two more started mouthing what seemed to Jukes 
fierce denunciations ; the others stirred with grunts and 
growls. Jukes ordered the hands out of the 'tween- 
decks hurriedly. He left last himself, backing through 
the door, while the grunts rose to a loud murmur and 
hands were extended after him as after a malefactor. 
The boatswain shot the bolt, and remarked uneasily, 
" Seems as if the wind had dropped, sir." 

The seamen were glad to get back into the alleyway. 
Secretly each of them thought that at the last moment 
he could rush out on deck — and that was a comfort. 
There is something horribly repugnant in the idea of 
being drowned under a deck. Now they had done with 
the Chinamen, they again became conscious of the ship's 

Jukes on coming out of the alleyway found himself 
up to the necM in the noisy water. He gained the 
bridge, and discovered he could detect obscure shapes 
as if his sight had become preternaturally acute. He 
saw faint outlines. They recalled not the familiar 
aspect of the Nan-Shan, but something remembered — 
an old dismantled steamer he had seen years ago 
rotting on a mudbank. She recalled that wreciv. 

There was no wind, not a breath, except the faint 
currents created by the lurches of the ship. The 
smoke tossed out of the funnel was settling down upon 
her deck. He breathed it as he passed forward. He 


felt the deliberate throb of the engines, and heard small 
sounds that seemed to have survived the great uproar : 
the knocking of broken fittings, the rapid tumbling of 
some piece of wreckage on the bridge. He perceived 
dimly the squat shape of his captain holding on to a 
twisted bridge-rail, motionless and swaying as if rooted 
to the planks. The unexpected stillness of the air 
oppressed Jukes. 

" We have done it, sir," he gasped. 

"Thought you would," said Captain MacWhirr. 

" Did you ? " murmured Jukes to himself. 

"Wind fell all at once," went on the Captain. 

Jukes burst out: "If you think it was an easy 
job " 

But his captain, clinging to the rail, paid no atten- 
tion. " According to the books the worst is not over 

" If most of them hadn't been half dead with sea- 
sickness and fright, not one of us would have come out 
of that 'tween-deck alive," said Jukes. 

" Had to do what's fair by them," mumbled 
MacWhirr stolidly. " You don't find everything in 

"Why, I believe they would have risen on us if I 
hadn't ordered the hands out of that pretty quick," 
continued Jukes with warmth. 

After the whisper of their shouts, their ordinary 
tones, so distinct, rang out very loud to their ears in 
the amazing stillness of the air. It seemed to them 
they were talking in a dark and echoing vault. 

Through a jagged aperture in the dome of clouds the 
light of a few stars fell upon the black sea, rising and 


falling confusedly. Sometimes the head of a watery 
cone would topple on board and mingle with the rolling 
flurry of foam on the swamped deck ; and the Nan- 
Shan wallowed heavily at the bottom of a circular 
cistern of clouds. This ring of dense vapours, gyrating 
madly round the calm of the centre, encompassed the 
ship like a motionless and unbroken wall of an 
aspect inconceivably sinister. Within, the sea, as if 
agitated by an internal commotion, leaped in peaked 
mounds that jostled each other, slapping heavily against 
her sides ; and a low moaning sound, the infinite plaint 
of the storm's fury, came from be3'ond the limits of the 
menacing calm. Captain MacWhirr remained silent, 
and Jukes' ready ear caught suddenly the faint, long- 
drawn roar of some immense wave rushing unseen 
under that thick blackness, which made the appalling 
boundary of his vision. 

" Of course," he started resentfully, " they thought 
we had caught at the. chance to plunder them. Of 
course ! You said — pick up the money. Easier said 
than done. They couldn't tell what was in our heads. 
We came in, smash — right into the middle of them. 
Had to do it by a rush." 

" As long as it's done . . . ," mumbled the Captain, 
without attempting to look at Jukes. " Had to do 
what's fair." 

" We shall find yet there's the devil to pay when 
this is over," said Jukes, feeling very sore. " Let 
them only recover a bit, and you'll see. They will fly 
at our throats, sir. Don't forget, sir, she isn't a British 
ship now. These brutes know it well, too. The 
damn'd Siamese flag." 


"We are on board, all the same," remarked Captain 
Mac Whirr. 

"The trouble's i.ot over yet," insisted Jukes pro- 
phetically, reeling and catchinj on. " She's a wreck," 
he added faintly. 

"The trouble's not over yet," assented Captain 
MacWhirr, half aloud. ... *' Look out for her a 

" Are you going off the deck, sir ? " asked Jukes 
hurriedly, as if the storm were sure to pounce upon 
him as soon as he had been left alone with the ship. 

He watched her, battered and solitary, labouring heavily 
in a wild scene of mountainous black waters lit by the 
gleams of distant worlds. She moved slowly, breathing 
into the still core of the hurricane the excess of her 
strength in a white cloud of steam — and the deep- 
toned vibration of the escape was like the defiant 
trumpeting of a living creature of the sea impatient for 
the renewal of the contest. It ceased suddenly. The 
still air moaned. Above Jukes' head a few stars shone 
into the pit of black vapours. The inky edge of the 
cloud-disc frowned upon the ship under the patch of 
glittering sky. The stars too seemed to look at her 
intently, as if for the last time, and the cluster of their 
splendour sat like a diadem on a lowering brow. 

Captain MacWhirr had gone into the chart-room. 
There was no hght there ; but he could feel the disorder 
of that place where he used to live tidily. His armchair 
was upset. The books had tumbled out on the floor: 
he scrunched a piece of glass under his boot. He 
groped for the matclics, and fouml a box on a shelf 
with a deep ledge. He struck one, and puckering the 


corners of his eyes, held out the little flame towards 
the barometer whose glittering top of glass and metals 
nodded at him continuously. 

It stood very low — incredibly low, so low that Captain 
MacWhirr grunted. The match went out, and hurriedly 
he extracted another, with thick, stiff fingers. 

Again a little flame flared up before the nodding glass 
and metal of the top. His eyes looked at it, narrowed 
with attention, as if expecting an imperceptible sign. 
With his grave face he resembled a booted and mis- 
shapen pagan burning incense before the oracle of a 
Joss. There was no mistake. It was the lowest 
reading he had ever seen in his life. 

Captain MacWhirr emitted a low whistle. He forgot 
himself till the flame diminished to a blue spark, burnt 
his fingers and vanished. Perhaps something had gone 
wrong with the thing ! 

There was an aneroid glass screwed above the couch. 
He turned that way, struck another match, and dis- 
covered the white face of the other instrument looking 
at him from the bulkhead, meaningly, not to be gain- 
said, as though the wisdom of men were made unerring 
by the indifference of matter. There was no room for 
doubt now. Captain MacWhirr pshawed at it, and 
threw the match down. 

The worst was to come, then — and if the books were 
right this worst would be very bad. The experience of 
the last six hours had enlarged his conception of what 
heavy weather could be hke. " It'll be terrific," he 
pronounced mentally. He had not consciously looked 
at anything by the light of the matches except at the 
barometer ; and yet somehow he had seen that his 


water-bottle and the two tumblers had been flung out 
of their stand. It seemed to give him a more intimate 
knowledge of the tossing the ship had gone through. 
" I wouldn't have believed it," he thought. And his 
table had been cleared too ; his rulers, his pencils, the 
inkstand — all the things that had their safe appointed 
places — they were gone, as if a mischievous hand had 
plucked them out one by one and flung them on the 
wet floor. The hurricane had broken in upon the 
orderly arrangements of his privacy. This had never 
happened before, and the feeling of dismay reached the 
very seat of his composure. And the worst was to 
come yet! He was glad the trouble in the 'tween- 
deck had been discovered in time. If the ship had to go 
after all, then, at least, she wouldn't be going to the 
bottom with a lot of people in her fighting teeth and 
claw. That would have been odious. And in that 
feeling there was a humane intention and a vague sense 
of the fitness of things. 

These instantaneous thoughts were yet in their 
essence heavy and slow, partaking of the nature of the 
I man. He extended his hand to put back the matchbox 
in its corner of the shelf. There were always matches 
there — by his order. The steward had his instructions 
impressed upon him long before. "A box . . . just 
there, see ? Not so very full . . . where I can put 
my hand on it, steward. Might want a light in a hurry. 
Can't tell on board ship what you might want in a 
lurry. Mind, now." 

And of course on his side he wouM be careful to put 
t back in its place scrupulously. He did so now, but 
)efore he removed his hand it occurred to him that 


perhaps he would never have occasion to use that box 
any more. The vividness of the thought checked him 
and for an infinitesimal fraction of a second his fingers 
closed again on the small object as though it had been 
the symbol of all these little habits that chain us to the 
weary round of life. He released it at last, and letting 
himself fall on the settee, listened for the first sounds 
of returning wind. 

Not yet. He heard only the wash of water, the 
heavy splashes, the dull shocks of the confused seas 
boarding his ship from all sides. She v/ould never 
have a chance to clear her decks. 

But the quietude of the air was startlingly tense and 
unsafe, like a slender hair holding a sword suspended 
over his head. By this awful pause the storm pene- 
trated the defences of the man and unsealed his lips. 
He spoke out in the solitude and the pitch darkness of 
the cabin, as if addressing another being awakened 
within his breast. 

" I shouldn't like to lose her," he said half aloud. 

He sat unseen, apart from the sea, from his ship, 
isolated, as if withdrawn from the very current of his 
own existence, where such freaks as talking to himself 
surely had no place. His palms reposed on his knees, 
he bowed his short neck and puffed heavily, surrender- 
ing to a strange sensation of weariness he was not 
enlightened enough to recognise for the fatigue of 
mental stress. 

From where he sat he could reach the door of a 
washstand locker. There should have been a towel 
there. There was. Good. . . . He took it out, wiped 
his face, and afterwards went on rubbing his wet head. 


-t towelled himself with energy in the dark, and then 

nained motionless with the towel on his knees. A 
ment passed, of a stillness so profound that no one 

uld have guessed there was a man sitting in that 

bin. Then a murmur arose. 

"She may come out of it yet." 

When Captain MacWhirr came out on deck, which 
lie did brusquely, as though he had suddenly become 

iscious of having stayed away too long, the calm 

1 lasted already more than fifteen minutes — long 

.ugh to make itself intolerable even to his imagina- 

1. Jukes, motionless on the forepart of the bridge, 

'i^an to speak at once. His voice, blank and forced 

1-; though he were talking through hard-set teeth, 

med to flow away on all sides into the darkness, 
pening again upon the sea. 

" I had the wheel relieved. Hackett began to sing 

I that he was doine. He's lying in there alongside 
he steering gear with a face like death. At first I 
wouldn't get anybody to crawl out and relieve the poor 
levil. That boss'en's worse than no good, I always 
aid. Thought I would have had to go myself and 
laul out one of them by the neck." 

"Ah, well," muttered the Captain. He stood watch- 
ul by Jukes' side. 

" The second mate's in there too, holding his head. 
s he hurt, sir ? 

" No — crazy," said Captain MacWhirr, curtly. 

" Looks as if he had a tumble, though." 

" I had to give him a push," explained the Captain. 

Jukes gave an impatient sigh. 

" It will come very sudden," said Captain MacWhirr, 


" and from over there, I fancy. God only knows, 
though. These books are only good to muddle your 
head and make you jumpy. It will be bad, and there's 
an end. If we only can steam her round in time to 
meet it . . ." 

A minute passed. Some of the stars winked rapidly 
and vanished. 

" You left them pretty safe ? " began the Captain 
abruptly, as though the silence were unbearable. 

** Are you thinking of the coolies, sir ? I rigged life- 
lines all ways across that 'tween-deck." 

" Did you ? Good idea, Mr. Jukes." 

" I didn't . . . think you cared to . . . know," said 
Jukes — the lurching of the ship cut his speech as 
though somebody had been jerking him around while 
he talked — "how I got on with . . . that infernal 
job. We did it. And it may not matter in the 

" Had to do what's fair, for all — they are only 
Chinamen. Give them the same chance with ourselves 
— hang it all. She isn't lost yet. Bad enough to be 
shut up below in a gale " 

" That's what I thought when you gave me the job, 
sir," interjected Jukes moodily. 

" without being battesfd to pieces," pursued 

Captain MacWhirr with rising vehemence. "Couldn't 
let that go on in my ship, if I knew she hadn't five 
minutes to live. Couldn't bear it, Mr. Jukes." 

A hollow echoing noise, like that of a shout rolling 
in a rocky chasm, approached the ship and went away 
again. The last star, blurred, enlarged, as if returning 
to the fiery mist of its beginning, struggled with tlic 


colossal depth of blackness hanging over the ship — and 
went out. 

" Now for it !" muttered Captain MacWhirr. " Mr. 

" Here, sir." 

The two men were growing indistinct to each 

" We must trust her to go through it and come out 
on the other side. That's plain and straight. There's 
no room for Captain Wilson's storm-strategy here." 

" No, sir." 

"She will be smothered and swept again for hours," 
mumbled the Captain. "There's not much left by this 
time above deck for the sea to take away — unless you 
or me." 

" Both, sir," whispered Jukes breathlessly. 

" You are always meeting trouble half way, Jukes," 
Captain MacWhirr remonstrated quaintly. "Though 
it's a fact that the second mate is no good. D'ye hear, 
Mr. Jukes ? You would be left alone if . . ." 

Captain MacWhirr interrupted himself, and Jukes, 
glancing on all sides, remained silent. 

" Don't you be put out by anything," the Captain con- 
tinued, mumbling rather fast. " Keep her facing it. 
They may say what they like, but the heaviest seas run 
with the wind. Facing it — always facing it — that's the 
way to get through. You are a young sailor. Face it. 
That's enough for any man. Keep a cool head." 

"Yes, sir," said Jukes, with a flutter of the heart. 

In the next few seconds the Captain spoke to the 
engine-room and got an answer. 

For some reason Jukes experienceJ an access of con- 


fidence, a sensation that came from outside like a warm 
breath, and made him feel equal to every demand. The 
distant muttering of the darkness stole into his ears. 
He noted it unmoved, out of that sudden belief in 
himself, as a man safe in a shirt of mail would v^^atch 
a point. 

The ship laboured without intermission amongst the 
black hills of water, paying with this hard tumbling the 
price of her life. She rumbled in her depths, shaking 
a white plummet of steam into the night, and Jukes' 
thought skimmed like a bird through the engine-room, 
where Mr. Rout — good man — was ready. When the 
rumbling ceased it seemed to him that there was a 
pause of every sound, a dead pause in which Captain 
MacWhirr's voice rang out startlingly. 

"What's that? A pufF of wind ? " — it spoke much 
louder than Jukes had ever heard it before — "On the 
bow. That's right. She may come out of it yet." 

The mutter of the winds drew near apace. In the 
forefront could be distinguished a drowsy waking plaint 
passing on, and far off the growth of a multiple 
clamour, marching and expanding. There was the 
throb as of many drums in it, a vicious rushing note, 
and like the chant of a tramping multitude. 

Jukes could no longer see his captain distinctly. 
The darkness was absolutely piling itself upon the 
ship. At most he made out movements, a hint of elbows 
spread out, of a head thrown up. 

Captain MacWhirr was trying to do up the top button 
of his oilskin coat with unwonted haste. The hurri- 
cane, with its power to madden the seas, to sink ships, 
to uproot trees, to overturn strong walls and dash the 


very birds of the air to the ground, had found this 
taciturn man in its path, and, doing its utmost, had 
managed to wring out a few words. Before the re- 
newed wrath of winds swooped on his ship, Captain 
MacWhirr was moved to declare, in a tone of vexation, 
as it were : " I wouldn't like to lose her," 
He was spared that annoyance. 

On a bright sunshiny day, with the breeze chasing 
her smoke far ahead, the Nan-Shan came into Fu-chau. 
Her arrival was at once noticed on shore, and the sea- 
men in harbour said : " Look I Look at that steamer. 
What's that ? Siamese — isn't she ? Just look at her ! " 

She seemed, indeed, to have been used as a running 
target for the secondary batteries of a cruiser. A hail 
of minor shells could not have given her upper works a 
more broken, torn, and devastated aspect : and she had 
about her the worn, weary air of ships coming from the 
far ends of the world — and indeed with truth, for in her 
short passage she had been very far ; sighting, verily, 
even the coast of the Great Beyond, whence no ship 
ever returns to give up her crew to the dust of the 
earth. She was incrusted and grey with salt to the 
trucks of her masts and to the top of her funnel ; as 
though (as some facetious seaman said) " the crowd on 
board had fished her out somewhere from the bottom 
of the sea and brought her in here for salvage." And 
further, excited by the felicity of his own wit, he 
offered to give five pounds for her — "as she stands." 

Before she had been quite an hour at rest, a meagre 
little man, with a red-tipped nose and a face cast in an 
angry mould, landed from a sampan on the quay of the 
Foreign Concession, and incontinently turned to shake 
his fist at her. 


A tall inaividual, with legs much too thin for a rotund 
stomach, and with watery eyes, strolled up and re- 
marked, " Just left her — eh ? Quick work." 

He wore a soiled suit of blue flannel with a pair of 
dirty cricketing shoes ; a dingy grey moustache 
drooped from his lip, and daylight could be seen in two 
places between the rim and the crown of his hat. 

** Hallo ! what are you doing here ? " asked the 
ex-second-mate of the Nan-Shany shaking hands 

"Standing by for a job — chance worth taking — got a 
quiet hint," explained the man with the broken hat, in 
jerky, apathetic wheezes. 

The second shook his fist again at the Nan-Shan. 
" There's a fellow there that ain't fit to have the com- 
mand of a scow," he declared, quivering with passion, 
while the other looked about listlessl3\ 

" Is there ? " 

But he caught sight on the quay of a heavy seaman's 
chest, painted brown under a fringed sailcloth cover, 
and lashed with new manila line. He eyed it with 
awakened interest. 

" I would talk and raise trouble if it wasn't for that 
damned Siamese flag. Nobody to go to — or I would 
make it hot for him. The fraud ! Told his chief 
engineer — that's another fraud for you — I had lost my 
nerve. The greatest lot of ignorant fools that ever 
sailed the seas. No! You can't think . . ." 

*• Got your money all right ? " inquired his seedy 
acquaintance suddenly. 

" Yes. Paid me oft on board," raged the second 
mate. " ' Get your breakfast on shore,' says he." 


" Mean skunk I " commented the tall man vaguely, 
and passed his tongue on his lips. " What about having 
a drink of some sort ? " 

" He struck me," hissed the second mate. 

" No ! Struck ! You don't say ? " The man in blue 
began to bustle about sympathetically. " Can't possibly 
talk here. I want to know all about it. Struck — eh ? 
Let's get a fellow to carry your chest. I know a quiet 
place where they have some bottled beer. . . ." 

Mr. Jukes, who had been scanning the shore through 
a pair of glasses, informed the chief engineer after- 
wards that " our late second mate hasn't been long in 
finding a friend. A chap looking uncommonly like a 
bummer. I saw them walk away together from the 

The hammering and banging of the needful repairs 
did not disturb Captain MacWhirr. The steward 
found in the letter he wrote, in a tidy chart-room, 
passages of such absorbing interest that twice he was 
nearly caught in the act. But Mrs. MacWhirr, in the 
drawing-room of the fort3^-pound house^ stifled a yawn 
— perhaps out of self-respect — for she was alone. 

She reclined in a plush-bottomed and gilt hammock- 
chair near a tiled fireplace, with Japanese fans on the 
mantel and a glowof coals in the grate. Lifting her hands, 
she glanced wearily here and there into the many pages. 
It was not her fault they were so prosy, so completely 
uninteresting — from " My darling wife " at the begin- 
ning, to ** Your loving husband " at the end. She 
couldn't be really expected to understand all these ship 
affairs. She was glad, of course, to hear from him, but 
she had never asked herself why, precisely. 


". . . They are called typhoons . . . The mate did 
not seem to like it . . . Not in books . . . Couldn't 
think of letting it go on. ..." 

The paper rustled sharply. ". , . . A calm that 
lasted over twenty minutes," she read perfunctorily ; 
and the next words her thoughtless eyes caught, on 
the top of another page, were ; " see you and the chil- 
dren again. . . ." She had a movement of impatience. 
He was always thinking of coming home. He had 
never had such a good salary before. What was the 
matter now ? 

It did not occur to her to turn back overleaf to look. 
She would have found it recorded there that between 
4 and 6 a.m. on December 25th, Captain MacWhirr did 
actually think that his ship could not possibly live 
another hour in such a sea, and that he would never 
see his wife and children again. Nobody was to know 
this (his letters got mislnid so quickly) — nobody what- 
ever but the steward, who had been greatly impressed 
by that disclosure. So much so, that he tried to give 
the cook some idea of the "narrow squeak we all had" 
by saying solemnly, " The old man himself had a dam' 
poor opinion of our chance." 

" How do you know ? " asked contemptuously the 
cook, an old soldier, " He hasn't told you, maybe ? " 

"Well, he did give me a hint to that elfcct," the 
steward brazened it out. 

" Get along with you ! He will be coming to tell 
me next," jeered the old cook over his shoulder. 

Mrs. MacWhirr glanced farther, on the alert. ". . . 
Do what's fair. . . . Miserable objects. . . . Only three, 
with a broken leg each, and one . . . Thought had 


better keep the matter quiet . . . hope to have done 
the fair thing. ..." 

She let fall her hands. No : there was nothing more 
about coming home. Must have been merely express- 
ing a pious wish. Mrs, Mac Whirr's mind was set at 
ease, and a black marble clock, priced by the local 
jeweller at £s i8s. 6d., had a discreet stealthy tick. 

The door flew open, and a girl in the long-legged, 
short-frocked period of existence, flung into the room. 
A lot of colourless, rather lanky hair was scattered 
over her shoulders. Seeing her mother, she stood still, 
and directed her pale prying e3'es upon the letter. 

"From father," murmured Mrs. MacWhirr. "What 
have you done with your ribbon ? " 

The girl put her hands up to her head and pouted. 

" He's well," continued Mrs. MacWhirr languidly. 
"At least I think so. He never says." She had a 
little laugh. The girl's face expressed a wandering 
indifference, and Mrs. MacWhirr surveyed her with 
fond pride. 

" Go and get your hat," she said after a while. "I 
am going out to do some shopping. There is a sale 
at Linom's." 

" Oh, how jolly ! " uttered the child impressively, in 
unexpectedly grave vibrating tones, and bounded out 
of the room. 

It was a fine afternoon, with a grey sky and dry 
sidewalks. Outside the draper's Mrs. MacWhirr 
smiled upon a woman in a black mantle of generous 
proportions, armoured in jet and crowned with flowers 
blooming falsely above a bilious matronly countenance. 
They broke into a swift little babble of greetings and 


exclamations both together, very hurried, as if the 
street were ready to yawn open and swallow all that 
pleasure before it could be expressed. 

Behind them the high glass doors were kept on the 
swing. People couldn't pass, men stood aside waiting 
patiently, and Lydia was absorbed in poking the end 
of her parasol between the stone flags. Mrs. MacWhirr 
talked rapidly. 

" Thank you very much. He's not coming home yet. 
Of course it's very sad to have him away, but it's such 
a comfort to know he keeps so well." Mrs. MacWhirr 
drew breath. "The climate there agrees with him," 
she added beamingly, as if poor MacWhirr had been 
away touring in China for the sake of his health. 

Neither was the chief engineer coming home yet. 
Mr. Rout knew too well the value of a good billet. 

" Solomon says wonders will never cease," cried 
Mrs. Rout joyously at the old lady in her armchair 
by the fire. Mr. Rout's mother moved slightly, her 
withered hands lying in black half-mittens on her lap. 

The eyes of the engineer's wife fairly danced on the 
paper. ** That captain of the ship he is in — a rather 
dimple man, you remember, mother ? — has done some- 
thing rather clever, Solomon sa3's." 

*' Yes, my dear," said the old woman meekly, sitting 
with bowed silvery head, and that air of inward still- 
ness characteristic of very old people who seem lost in 
watching the last flickers of life. " I think I remember." 

Solomon Rout, Old Sol, Father Sol,Tlic Chief, " Rout, 
good man" — Mr. Rout, the condescending and paternal 
friend of youth, had been the baby of her many children 
'—all dead by this time. And she remembered him 


best as a boy of ten — long before he went away to 
serve his apprenticeship in some great engineering 
works in the North. She had seen so httle of him 
since, she had gone through so many years, that she 
had now to retrace her steps very far back to recognise 
him plainly in the mist of time. Sometimes it seemed 
that her daughter-in-law was talking of some strange 

Mrs. Rout junior was disappointed. " H'm. H'm." 
She turned the page. " Hov/ provoking ! He doesn't 
say what it is. Says I couldn't understand how much 
there was in it. Fancy ! What could it be so very 
clever ? What a wretched man not to tell us ! " 

She read on without further remark soberly, and at 
last sat looking into the fire. The chief wrote just a 
word or two of the typhoon ; but something had moved 
liim to express an increased longing for the companion- 
ship of the jolly woman. "If it hadn't been that 
mother must be looked after, I would send you your 
passage-money to-day. You could set up a small house 
out here. I would have a chance to see you sometimes 
then. We are not growing younger. . . ." 

** He's well, mother," sighed Mrs. Rout, rousing 

" He always was a strong healthy boy," said the old 
woman placidly. 

But Mr. Jukes' account was really animated and 
very full. His friend in the Western Ocean trade 
n parted it freely to the other officers of his Hner. "A 
chap I know writes to me about an extraordinary affair 
that happened on board his ship in that typhoon — you 
know — that we read of in the papers two months ago. 


It's the funniest thing ! Just see for yourself what he 
says. I'll show you his letter." 

There were phrases in it calculated to give the 
impression of light-hearted, indomitable resolution. 
Jukes had written them in good faith, for he felt thus 
when he wrote. He described with lurid effect the 
scenes in the 'tween-deck. "... It struck me in a 
flash that those confounded Chinamen couldn't tell we 
weren't a desperate kind of robbers. 'Tisn't good to 
part the Chinaman from his money if he is the stronger 
party. We need have been desperate indeed to go 
thieving in such weather, but what could these beggars 
know of us ? So, without thinking of it twice, I got 
the hands away in a jiffy. Our work was done — that 
the old man had set his heart on. We cleared out 
without staying to inquire how they felt. I am con- 
vinced that if they had not been so unmercifully shaken, 
and afraid — each individual one of them — to stand up, 
we would have been torn to pieces. Oh 1 It was 
pretty complete, I can tell you ; and you may run to 
and fro across the Pond to the end of time before you 
find yourself with such a job on your hands." 

After this he alluded professionally to the damage 
done to the ship, and went on thus : 

" It was when the weather quieted down that the 
situation became confoundedly delicate. It wasn't 
made any better by us having been lately transferred to 
the Siamese flag ; though the skipper can't see that it 
makes any diflVrence — ' as long as ivc are on board ' — 
he says. There are feelings that this man simply 
hasn't got — and there's an end of it. You might just 
as well try to make a bedpost understand. But apart 


from this it is an infernally lonely state for a ship to 
be going about the China seas with no proper consuls, 
not even a gunboat of her own anywhere, nor a body 
to go to in case of some trouble. 

" My notion was to keep these Johnnies under hatches 
for another fifteen hours or so ; as we weren't much 
farther than that from Fu-chau. We would find there, 
most likely, some sort of a man-of-war, and once under 
her guns we were safe enough ; for surely any skipper 
of a man-of-war — English, French or Dutch — would 
see white men through as far as row on board goes. 
We could get rid of them and their money afterwards by 
delivering them to their Mandarin or Taotai, or whatever 
they call these chaps in goggles you see being carried 
about in sedan-chairs through their stinking streets. 

" The old man wouldn't see it somehow. He wanted 
to keep the matter quiet. He got that notion into his 
head, and a steam windlass couldn't drag it out of him. 
He wanted as little fuss made as possible, for the sake 
of the ship's name and for the sake of the owners — ' for 
the sake of all concerned,' says he, looking at me very 
hard. It made me angry hot. Of course you couldn't 
keep a thing like that quiet ; but the chests had been 
secured in the usual manner and were safe enough 
for any earthly gale, while this had been an alto- 
gether fiendish business I couldn't give you even an 
idea of. 

" Meantime, I could hardly keep on my feet. None 
of us had a spell of any sort for nearly thirty hours, 
and there the old man sat rubbing his chin, rubbing the 
top of his head, and so bothered he didn't even think 
of pulling his long boots off. 


" * I hope, sir/ says I, ' you won't be letting them 
out on deck before we make ready for them in some 
shape or other.' Not, mind you, that I felt very san- 
guine about controlling these beggars if they meant to 
take charge. A trouble with a cargo of Chinamen is 
no child's play. I was dam' tired too. ' I wish,' said 
I, * you would let us throw the whole lot of these 
dollars down to them and leave them to fight it out 
amongst themselves, while we get a rest.' 

" * Now you talk wild. Jukes,' says he, looking up in 
his slow way that makes you ache all over, somehow. 
'We must plan out something that would be fair to all 

" I had no end of work on hand, as you may imagine, 
so I set the hands going, and then I thought I would 
turn in a bit. I hadn't been asleep in my bunk ten 
minutes when in rushes the steward and begins to pull 
at my leg. 

" ' For God's sake, Mr. Jukes, come out ! Come on 
deck quick, sir. Oh, do come out ! ' 

" The fellow scared all the sense out of me. I didn't 
know what had happened : another hurricane — or what. 
Could hear no wind. 

" 'The Captain's letting them out. Oh, he is letting 
them out 1 Jump on deck, sir, and save us. The chief 
engineer has just run below for his revolver.' 

" That's what I understood the fool to say. How- 
ever, Father Rout swears he went in there only to get a 
clean pocket-handkerchief. Anyhow, I made one jump 
into my trousers and flew on deck aft. There was 
certainly a good deal of noise going on forward of the 
bridge. Four of the hands with the boss'en were at 


work abaft. I passed up to them some of the rifles all 
the ships on the China coast carry in the cabin, and led 
them on the bridge. On the way I ran against Old 
Sol, looking startled and sucking at an unlighted cigar. 

" ' Come along,' I shouted to him. 

" We charged, the seven of us, up to the chart-room. 
All was over. There stood the old man with his sea- 
boots still drawn up to the hips and in shirt-sleeves — 
got warm thinking it out, I suppose. Bun-hin's dandy 
clerk at his elbow, as dirt}^ as a sweep, was still green 
in the face. I could see directly I was in for some- 

" * What the devil are these monkey tricks, Mr. 
Jakes? ' asks the old man, as angry as ever he could 
be, I tell you frankly it made me lose my tongue. 
' For God's sake, Mr. Jukes,' says he, * do take away 
these rifles from the men. Somebody's sure to get hurt 
before long if you don't. Damme, if this ship isn't 
worse than Bedlam ! Look sharp now. I want you 
up here to help me and Bun-hin's Chinaman to count 
that money. You wouldn't mind lending a hand too, 
Mr. Rout, now you are here. The more of us the 

" He had settled it all in his mind while I was having 
a snooze. Had we been an English ship, or only going 
to land our cargo of coolies in an English port, like 
Hong-Kong, for instance, there would have been no 
end of inquiries and bother, claims for damages and 
so on. But these Chinamen know their officials better 
than we do. 

" The hatches had been taken off already, and they 
were all on dec.\ after a niglit and a day down below. 


It made you feel queer to see so many gaunt, wild faces 
together. The beggars stared about at the sky, at the 
sea, at the ship, as though they had expected the whole 
thing to have been blown to pieces. And no wonder I 
They had had a doing that would have shaken the soul 
out of a white man. But then they say a Chinaman 
has no soul. He has, though, something about him 
that is deuced tough. There was a fellow (amongst 
others of the badly hurt) who had had his eye all but 
knocked out. It stood out of his head the size of half 
a hen's egg. This would have laid out a white man on 
his back for a month : and yet there was that chap 
elbowing here and there in the crowd and talking to 
the others as if nothing had been the matter. They 
made a great hubbub amongst themselves, and when- 
ever the old man showed his bald head on the foreside 
of the bridge, they would all leave off jawing and look 
at him from below. 

" It seems that after he hfd done his thinking he 
made that Bun-hin's fellow go down and explain to 
them the only way they could get their money back. 
He told me afterwards that, all the coolies having 
worked in the same place and for the same length of 
time, he reckoned he would be doing the fair thing by 
them as near as possible if he shared all the cash we 
had picked up equally among the lot. You couldn't 
tell one man's dollars from another's, he said, and if you 
asked each man how much money he brought on 
board he was afraid they would lie, and he would 
find himself a long way short. I think he was right 
there. As to giving up the money to any Cliines;e 
official he could scare up in Fu-chau, he said he might 


just as well put the lot in his own pocket at once for all 
the good it would be to them. I suppose they thought 
so too. 

" We finished the distribution before dark. It was 
rather a sight : the sea running high, the ship a wreck 
to look at, these Chinamen staggering up on the bridge 
one by one for their share, and the old man still booted, 
and in his shirt-sleeves, busy paying out at the chart- 
room door, perspiring like anything, and now and then 
coming down sharp on myself or Father Rout about 
one thing or another not quite to his mind. He took 
the share of those who were disabled himself to them 
on the No. 2 hatch. There were three dollars left over, 
and these went to the three most damaged coolies, one 
to each. We turned-to afterwards, and shovelled out 
on deck heaps of wet rags, all sorts of fragments of 
things without shape, and that you couldn't give a 
name to, and let them settle the ownership them- 

"This certainly is coming as near as can be to 
keeping the thing quiet for the benefit of all concerned. 
What's your opinion, you pampered mail-boat swell ? 
The old chief says that this was plainly the only thing 
that could be done. The skipper remarked to me the 
other day, ' There are things you find nothing about in 
books.' I think that he got out of it very well for such 
a stupid man." 



Sir G. Parker, M.P. 
H. G. Wells 
Jack London 
E. F. Benson 
John Galsworthy 
H. de Vere Stacpoole 
Philip Gibbs 
Joseph Conrad 
Stephen Crane 
Duncan Schwann 
Robert Hichens 
Lloyd Osbourne 
R. L. Stevenson 
R. Harding Davis 
Harold Frederic 

D. D. Wells 
Baroness von Hutten 
Frank Danby 
Elizabeth Robins 
Florence C. Price 
Sybil Spottiswoode 
Mrs. Henry Dudeney 
Justin Huntly McCarthy 
Eleanor Abbott 
Charles Turley 
Flora Annie Steel 
Eleanor Mordaunt 
Mrs. Hodgson Burnett 
E. L. Voynich 
Maxwell Gray 

On all Boohlalh and of all Boohelkn 






A New Novel now in its Second Impression. 

Was that boy a fool? Or did he behave a 
trifle imprudently in trying circumstances ? It is 
difficult to say till you know Molly, who is des- 
cribed by the critics as ' one of the most lovable, 
fascinating and wholly adorable little heroines 
whose acquaintance any man has made for years.' 
One thing is certain, no sooner do you make 
Molly's acquaintance than you introduce her to 
all your friends. 



Author of "The Ladder of Swords," etc. 

Sir Gilbert Parker is one of our finest romance 
writers of the present day. This is a story of 
Egypt — full of rich colour, brilliant flowing 
descriptions. It has the flavour of the Desert, 
the Nile and the indefinable sense of immortality 
that belongs to the land of the Pharaohs. 



Author of " The Blue Lagoon," etc. 

Written with that verve and wonderfully in- 
fectious humour which is characteristic of this 
author The Outlook, says: "That rare and de- 
lightful thing, a French novel written in English." 



X /\.JVl (5th Impression in this Edition) 

Pam is a 'classic' before her time so to speak. 
People are compared to ' Pam ' ; so to their dis- 
advantage are most girl heroines of the novels. 
She is inimitable. 


(5th Impression in this Edition) 

" Whether we have or have not read ' Pam,' 
we shall certainly find ' What became of Pam ' 
interesting." — Daily Telegraph. 


Balzac says * The dramas of life do not lie in 
the circumstances surrounding — they lie in the 
heart.' This is a drama of the heart. 

" This tender idyll . . . we can only recom- 
mend our readers to buy and read it for them- 
selves."— Da/7y Mail. 



Author of "Baby Bullet," etc. 

" Crowded with thrilling incident the narrative 
races along. The book can be recommended to 
all who enjoy a talc of pure adventure." — Times. 





Author of "Pigs In Clover," etc. 

This brilliant eaustic writer here gives one of 
her vividest pictures of a certain clique in society. 
She wields no timid pen and does not hesitate to 
catch them in flagrante delicto. Yet the book is 
no * preachment ' from a self-assumed pulpit, it 
is a novel simply. 



Author of " A Man of Property," etc. 

This problem of the country family, the county 
family, is such that it concerns every one of us 
vitally. What they had to solve we have to 
solve. And it is Mr. Galsworthy's strong point 
that he never fails to give us a new vision, nor to 
hold our interest intent throughout. It is an 
inspiring work. 



A good story of London society and of polit- 
ical society. Lord Kentwell and his sisters 
provide a most spirited picture, and there is 
besides a background of big happenings very 
cleverly drawn. 




Author of " The Call of the Wild.* 

A gruesome, thrilling story of the sea. Mr. 
London brings always the breath of big spaces, 
the tenseness of great actions and the flesh and 
blood of real life, of adventures really lived, into 
his books. As a story, apart from anything else, 
it is probably as good a book as. Mr. London has 
ever written. 



Author of " Typhoon," etc. 

Mr. Conrad is a writer to whom the public 
instinctively turn nowadays for an exciting, 
closely analysed study of men. The Daily 
Chronicle says : * It is written by a man who 
knows every phase of the sea .... and it is 
written by a man who can write.' 



Author of "Gome and Find Me," etc. 

A Story of the ever-calling North. 

" It is all so excellently written, so vividly 
realized, so picturesquely put before the reader 
that it would be impossible not to be attracted." 

— IVeslminsler Gazelle. 



Author of " Sheaves," etc., etc. 


A murder story, most ingeniously worked out. 
Mr. Benson carries the reader along full speed 
to a truly dramatic ending. 


A very different story from the * Blotting 
Book'. It is a light, highly entertaining account 
of Cambridge undergraduate life which ranks 
with ' Verdant Green' among University classics. 



A picture in low tones, but of whole-hearted 
conviction and quiet sympathetic appeal. Mrs. 
Dudeney has realised to perfection the work-a- 
day world and its stories. 


A charming country tale with, in particular, 
one great scene of strikingly dramatic force. The 
contrast of this author's power to charm and to 
impress as she wills, is markedly shown in this 
capital book. 




Author of " The War of the Worlds," "Kips," etc. 

You pull certain levers, having seated your- 
self in the saddle, and you are conveyed either 
backwards or forwards. When Mr. W^ells is in 
the saddle it is easy to see how highly pleasur- 
able the consequent adventures will be. This 
clever idea has given Mr. Wells opportunity for 
full play of his philosophic views. 



A mediaeval romance of love and chivalry in 
which the poet Frangois Villon plays the lead- 
ing part. It has drama, this story, and it seizes 
the imagination. 



Author of " Hedwig in England," etc. 

Marcia is a bright, pleasant English girl, who 
goes to stay with her German relations. As 
others before her she finds it dilTicult to grasp a 
different point of view, a different civilisation. 
The result is amusingly set forth by this author, 
whose dialogue is always good. 



School Boy 


One of the very best of boys' books. It Is one 
of the rarest of all rare things — a thoroughly 
sensible school story. The boys are human, 
neither saints nor super-sinners, and the masters 
for once behave in a totally reasonable way. 
And that doesn't prevent it being a rattling good 



Author of " The Open Boat," etc. 

The thunders of war, the life of regiments, the 
soul of humanity in stress and dangers, its quali- 
ties and shortcomings are all written on the 
pages of this thrilling and absorbing book. From 
the first paragraph our enthusiasm is gained and 
is not let go till the last. 

" Simply unapproached in intimate knowledge 
and sustained imaginative strength." 

— Saturday Review. 



The * Street ' is Fleet Street of course, for in 
what other are so many adventures to be found. 
The ^^oening Standard says : "It has the quality 
of big work. . . , . The book positively pants 
with life." 



Author of "The Londoners," "Flames," An 

Imaginative Man," etc. 
This is the excellent novel on which the excel- 
lent play of the same title is founded. It is a book 
full of weird, haunting scenes of passion in the 
desert, full of the strange sinister fatalism of 
Eastern minds. 

"This is one of the best novels that we have 
ever read, and quite the best that Mr. Robert 
Hichens has written. It combines the two 
elements of which every good novel ought to be 
composed, subtle analysis of character and an 
exciting plot. . . , We will not spoil the read- 
ing of, this book by sketching the thrilling plot, 
which" is enacted on the Nile and its banks. 
Needless to say, the Egyptian scenery and ser- 
vants are described by Mr. Hichens with affec- 
tionate familiarity."— 5a/urJai; Review. 

" It is admirable drama. It lives with a pre- 
sent life, and moves swiftly. Some of the situ- 
ations are intensely thrilling; the dialogue is 
firm and easy ; the whole treatment forcible 
without theatricahsm. . . . Our attention is 
fixed at the start, and kept to the end, on a duel 
between Isaacson and Bella Donna. It is mag- 
nificent . . . there can be no denying it is a 
very fine novel." ^ 

— The (Svening Standard and Si. James s Gazette. 

"It is particularly interesting; its characters 
are drawn with particular care and splendid 
skill. . . - * Bella Donna ' is a fine study of a 
woman of passion ; remorseless in its truth, 
fascinating in its unmasking of the hidden springs 
of selfish desire."— r/je Qlobe. 




A story that will take its place among the 
brilliant first novels. It is dramatic, powerful, 
and haunting to the memory — marked in an 
uncommon degree by the qualities of distinction, 
of excellence of workmanship, perceptiveness, 
actuality, and the spiritual sense of life. 



Author of " Little Lord Fauntleroy," "The Secret 
Garden," etc. 

"Takes its place at once and without dispute 
among the greater permanent works of fiction. 
Breadth and sanity of outlook, absolute mastery 
of human character and life, bigness of story 
interest, place Mrs. Hodgson Burnett's new 
book alongside the best work of George Eliot. 
. . . The dignity and strength of a great novel 
such as this put to the blush all but a very few 
living English story-teilers." 

—Pall Mall Qazette. 

" A remarkable novel, for it is written with a 
sincerity and glow and power which bear the 
reader restlessly along the strange current of 
events that the writer sets herself to describe," 

— Standard. 

"Mrs. Burnett has the gift of a narrator to a 
high degree, and in spite of its faults, her latest 
novel makes a highly readable story." 

— Dady Mai7. 



Author of " The Garden of Contentment," 
"The Cost of It," etc. 

" The Garden of Contentment," those charm- 
ing letters to Mr. Nobody, has never ceased to 
sell from the moment it was published. The 
same may be said of " A Ship of Solace," which 
is filled with the breath of the sea, and the 
pleasing state of mind of complete idleness. It 
is a book for quiet hours, to which one can 
turn with pleasurable anticipation of repose and 

"Readers who like the scent of real sea air 
will revel in this truly delightful book." 

Daily 'Uelegraph. 



Author of "On the Face of the Waters," "The Potter's 
Thumb,'' "From the Five Rivers," etc., etc. 

" She has that gift, rare now among novelists, 
of being interested, first of all, in the story she 
has to tell. She is herself so strongly interested 
that her readers are carried along with her and 
share in her vitality and freshness." 

— Standard. 

" Mrs. Steel gives us one admirably dramatic 
scene — the death of an old woman from shock 
at a sudden disillusion while on her way to the 
Communion Table. . . . The squalid and starve- 
ling lot of crofters living on barren soil in or 
towards the last decade of the 19th century is 
well depicted."— .4//jcnarunj. 





Author of •' The Magic of the Hill." 

Mr. Duncan Schwann has recently been 
acclaimed as one of the four great humourists in 
England at the present time. This "Book of a 
Bachelor " is delightful reading of a light kind, 
but it carries weight also, for Mr. Schwann lias 
picked out the little feeblenesses and frailty of 
this world as a background to his airy frivolity. 

" A picturesque romance of modern life is this 
story by Duncan Schwann. . . . There is, 
indeed, a good deal of cleverness in the book." 

Westminster Gazette. 

"... Is decidedly entertaining. Mr. Schwann 
is an admirable journalist who has already given 
proof of his power, but he has done nothing so 
good as this . . . which is intelligent, humorous, 
and on the side of the angels." 

— British Weekly. 

" There is knowledge of the world and some 
mild philosophy to be found in this pleasant 
romance of modern life." — Qlobe. 

The Novels of E. F. BENSON 

Uniform Edition. Crown 8vo. With coloured 
Frontispiece and Wrapper. Each vol. 2/- net. 


"The readers of Mr. Benson's book will delight in this 
story. It is full of interest and cleverness." 

—Pall Mall Gazette. 


" We would recommend this to our readers. It has 
vivid characters staged cleverly, and a subtle charm 
which make the work thoroughly enjoyable." 

Sritiih Weekly. 


"Bright, witty dialogues and gay fascinating scenes. 
Full of humorous sayings and witty things." 

— Daily Telegraph. 


" This is a really thrilling and exciting tale of crime 
and mystery. It is readable all through and full of enter- 
tainment." — Times. 


" Must be accounted a really brilliant piece of work, 
unsurpassed by anything Mr. Benson has given us." 

—Pall Mall Qazetie. 


" 'The Book of Months' is full of charm — real, per- 
suasive, penetrating charm — there rings the sincerity of 
real feeling and purpose." — "Daily Chronicle. 


" 'The Challoners' must be pronounced not only the 
best book he has given us but one of the best novels." 

—Daily Mail. 

The Novels of E. F. BENSON 

Uniform Edition. Crown 8vo. With coloured 
Frontispiece and Wrapper. Each vol. 2 " net. 


"An admirably constructed story, brilliant character 
sketches, flashes of good talk — a remarkably clever 
book." — Guardian. 


"Even the sceptic must admit the grim power of the 
book." — [Bookman. 


" Mr. Benson at his gayest and best. Nothing could 
he more natural or more amusing than most of the 
dialogue — full of admirable portraiture and an abundance 
both of humour and humanity." — Outlook- 


" Brillant, clever, full of wise observations and sage 
counsels. " — Standard. 


" His story is written with striking efiFect, and the 
author's wonderful power of observation is to be found 
in almost every page." — World. 


''Delightful in its literary brightness and charm, it is 
also full of exquisite and appealing humanity ... a fine 
achievement." — Liverpool Mercury. 


" This is an admirably written study of English modern 
life. Lovers of Mr. Benson's work will be charmed wItK 
his latest novel." — 'U. 'P.'s Weekly. 


"As human and sincere as anything in 'Sheaves* or 
the 'Challoners.' A charming story." — Observer. 




" Mr. Hall Caine has in this work placed himself 
beyond the front rank of the novelists of the day." 

— The Scotsman. 


" There are passages in ' The Scapegoat ' which entitle 
Mr. Hall Caine to a high place amongst contemporary 
writers of fiction. — TDail^ Chronicle. 

By R. L. STEVENSON (in conjunction 


"The master storyteller is apparent to the reader of 
this book. It is full of freshness, incident and character. 
It is a splendid tale." — Guardian. 



" It is impossible not to recognise the skill with which 
Mr. London follows out point by point the training of a 
sledge dog. 'The Call of the Wild ' is a very remarkable 
book." — Daily Chronicle. 



" Original and ingenious romance which attests strongly 
the variety and fertility of Mr. Wells' imagination." 

— Do/'/j) Chronicle, 



" Tlie picturesque charm of Mr. Hichens' style and his 
indisputoMe command of the weird and mysterious will 
hold attention fixed from the first chapter of this power- 
ful story to the last." — Graphic. 




" Itis more interesring and rich in promise than nir 
nine out of every hundred novels that pass through 
reviewer's hand." — Academy. 



" Undoubtedly the book of the moment is Rtc 
Harding Davis' ' In the Fog.' . . The merit of the 
is doubtless to be found in the last unexpected touch 


"Mr. Davis has the dramatic gift — he carries 
along with him. One need not wish for a better 
of action than this." — Jlcademy. 



" Any reader who wants an absorbing story, f 
cleverness and excitement, should read this book." 

—Daily N 



"It is an admirable piece of humour with not a 
page in it from beginning to end." — Atheneum. 



"It is always an intellectual stimulus to rea< 
Conrad, and he has written little that is finer thj 
purple patches in 'Typhoon.'" — Times. 



This most excellent story of Ireland, written 1: 
Harold Frederic, is sure to be a popular volu 
protably more imbued with the true spirit c 
Emerald Isle than any novel of the day. 





lllilillMIIM I 


Conrad, JosepH 



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